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Symptom Causes & Treatment of Cardiomyopathy

Symptom Causes & Treatment of Cardiacmyopathy
  • Jan 12
  • Cardiology

Overview

Cardiomyopathy is termed as a progressive disease that affects the heart muscle – also known as myocardium. Often described as the leading cause of heart failure, especially in younger people, cardiomyopathy causes the heart muscle to get thick, enlarged and affects its ability to pump blood efficiently. It can also cause dangerous & irregular heart rhythms. This condition is only said to affect the heart – the left ventricle or main pumping chamber, in particular. There are four primary types of cardiomyopathy:

Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM): which affects the left ventricle of the heart causing it to enlarge and subsequently weaken over time.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM): thickening of the myocardium or heart muscle cells, which results in the walls of the heart to become abnormally thick.

Restrictive cardiomyopathy (RCM): affects the lower ventricle walls eventually impairing their ability to function effectively by making them rigid and inflexible.

Arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy: affecting the right ventricle, this particular variant of cardiomyopathy is usually linked with abnormal heart rhythms and can even result in sudden death.

Symptoms

It’s not unusual for people suffering from cardiomyopathy to never exhibit any signs or symptoms. Moreover, in the early stages of the disease, there’s a distinct possibility of no symptoms showing up. It also needs to be mentioned that the symptoms usually vary depending on the type of cardiomyopathy, the age of the individual, and how severe the condition is. Some of the commonly observed symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath especially when there is physical exertion
  • Fatigue and tiredness
  • Arrhythmias or palpitations
  • A feeling of light-headedness, Dizziness or bouts of fainting
  • Swelling in the legs, upper thighs, feet, ankles, abdomen, and veins in the neck
  • Pain in the chest region

Causes / Risk Factors

It needs to be mentioned that there is possibly a myriad of risk factors and causes which can lead to cardiomyopathy. In most cases, cardiomyopathy can be segregated into two distinct categories:

Primary Cardiomyopathy – where cardiomyopathy is inherited or the underlying cause cannot be identified.

Secondary Cardiomyopathy – which develops owing to another underlying condition or risk factor.

That being said, some of the risk factors or causes in cardiomyopathy include:

  • Genetic variants or a family history of cardiomyopathy where certain types of cardiomyopathy are inherited
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Drug Abuse
  • Hemochromatosis a condition which cases an iron build-up in the heart muscle
  • Conditions such as Sarcoidosis (a condition which causes inflammation and growth of lumps cells in the heart) and Amyloidosis (a build-up of abnormal proteins) which cause irrevocable damage to the heart muscle
  • Steroids such as amphetamines and anabolic steroids
  • Uncontrolled high blood pressure.
  • Certain viral infections which can affect the heart thus leading to cardiomyopathy
  • Heart failure
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Certain chronic conditions such as diabetes, thyroid disease etc.
  • Obesity
  • Side effects from certain chemotherapy medicines or treatments
  • Radiation therapy
  • In some cases, cardiomyopathy has also been known to develop due to a complication during a pregnancy
  • Rheumatoid arthritis or other similar connective tissue diseases
  • Nutritional deficiencies such as thiamine
  • Issues with the heart’s valve

Diagnosis and treatment

To confirm a diagnosis of cardiomyopathy, the concerned doctor will review the patient’s medical history, conduct a physical examination, review the symptoms and accordingly confirm the diagnosis after order a series of diagnostic tests and procedures to analyze the heart’s function. These tests may include:

  • An Echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart)
  • An Electrocardiogram (ECG)
  • Blood Tests
  • Catheterization
  • Screening tests such as an MRI, X-rays, CT scan etc.
  • Treadmill stress test
  • Genetic testing

Although there is no definitive cure for cardiomyopathy, the following treatment options aim to reduce and control the symptoms thus allowing the affected individuals to live long, healthy lives under proper care and supervision:

  • Medications such as beta-blockers to control the heart rate, Anti-coagulants to lessen the odds of blood clots formation, diuretics to reduce fluid build-up in the body which can lead to swelling, and ACE inhibitors which help in blocking the effects of hormones that affect blood pressure to dilate blood vessels, thus helping reduce the workload of the heart.
  • A surgically implanted device called pacemaker that helps control and maintain proper heart rhythm. Implantable cardioverter defibrillators or ICDs which help prompt the heart to beat at a normal rate and send electrical pulses if it goes out of normal rhythm.
  • A left ventricular assist device (LVAD) which can assist in proper pumping of blood from the to the rest of the body. This is a viable option for people who are waiting for a heart transplant.
  • Removal of extra heart tissue/muscle to reduce thickening and help the heart perform better.
  • Heart transplant especially in the case of individuals with a severely damaged heart and when all other treatment options have failed.
  • Cardiac Ablation procedure.
  • Surgical myectomy — an open-heart surgery procedure.

We are alive because our heart is beating which makes it imperative to incorporate a healthy lifestyle that is good for the heart. Several studies have suggested that what we end up eating and drinking goes a long way in protecting the body against a tonne of heart-related issues. As a matter of fact, up to nearly 70% of all heart diseases can be preventable by making the right food choices. Simple dietary changes can help you keep your heart healthy and functioning optimally at all times. Heart-healthy foods if incorporated in the daily diet, will ascertain that the heart`s health is never compromised.

Although cardiomyopathy is difficult to prevent – especially in cases where there’s an inherited type of cardiomyopathy or where there is a family history of the condition. However, by making certain lifestyle changes, one can reduce the incidence of developing this devastating heart disease.

  • Avoiding excessive alcohol consumption
  • Quitting Smoking
  • Ditching the drug habit
  • Manage high blood pressure by monitoring salt intake
  • Incorporating a regular exercise regime
  • Sleeping well
  • Managing anxiety better and reducing stress levels
  • Tackling high cholesterol and diabetes

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