Merck Manual

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Arrhythmogenic Cardiomyopathies

By

L. Brent Mitchell

, MD, Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta, University of Calgary

Full review/revision Jan 2023
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Cardiomyopathy refers to progressive impairment of the structure and function of the muscular walls of the heart chambers.

There are three main types of cardiomyopathy:

Some of these disorders have genetic causes, which are typically inherited mutations.

The symptoms of the arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathies include symptoms of heart failure Symptoms Heart failure is a disorder in which the heart is unable to keep up with the demands of the body, leading to reduced blood flow, back-up (congestion) of blood in the veins and lungs, and/or... read more Symptoms itself, along with those of a too slow or too rapid heart beat. Heart failure manifestations include shortness of breath Shortness of Breath Shortness of breath—what doctors call dyspnea—is the unpleasant sensation of having difficulty breathing. People experience and describe shortness of breath differently depending on the cause... read more Shortness of Breath during exertion, excessive fatigue, difficulty breathing while lying flat (orthopnea), and/or swelling of the legs and feet Swelling Swelling is due to excess fluid in the tissues. The fluid is predominantly water. Swelling may be widespread or confined to a single limb or part of a limb. Swelling is often in the feet and... read more Swelling . Abnormal heart rhythms may cause palpitations Palpitations Palpitations are the awareness of heartbeats. The sensation may feel like pounding, fluttering, racing, or skipping beats. Other symptoms—for example, chest discomfort or shortness of breath—may... read more , light-headedness, fainting Fainting Light-headedness (near syncope) is a sense that one is about to faint. Fainting (syncope) is a sudden, brief loss of consciousness during which the person falls to the ground or slumps in a... read more , cardiac arrest Cardiac Arrest and CPR Cardiac arrest is when the heart stops pumping blood and oxygen to the brain and other organs and tissues. Sometimes a person can be revived after cardiac arrest, particularly if treatment is... read more Cardiac Arrest and CPR , and sudden death.

Close relatives of people with an arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathy may be at risk and should be examined by a doctor to look for evidence of heart disease. Relatives may need certain tests as well.

NOTE: This is the Consumer Version. DOCTORS: VIEW PROFESSIONAL VERSION
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