There are three main types of cardiomyopathy:
Dilated cardiomyopathy Dilated Cardiomyopathy Dilated cardiomyopathy is a group of heart muscle disorders in which the ventricles (the two lower chambers of the heart) enlarge (dilate) but are not able to pump enough blood for the body’s... read more , in which the ventricles (the two lower heart chambers) enlarge (dilate)
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy includes a group of heart disorders in which the walls of the ventricles (the two lower chambers of the heart) thicken (hypertrophy) and become stiff. Most cases... read more , in which the walls of the ventricles thicken and become stiff
Restrictive cardiomyopathy Restrictive Cardiomyopathy Restrictive cardiomyopathy includes a group of heart disorders in which the walls of the ventricles (the two lower chambers of the heart) become stiff, but not necessarily thickened, and resist... read more , in which the walls of the ventricles become stiff but not necessarily thickened
The main types of cardiomyopathy may overlap, that is, people may have features of more than one type.
The term cardiomyopathy is used only when a disorder directly affects the heart muscle. Other heart disorders such as coronary artery disease Overview of Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) Coronary artery disease is a condition in which the blood supply to the heart muscle is partially or completely blocked. The heart muscle needs a constant supply of oxygen-rich blood. The coronary... read more and heart valve disorders Overview of Heart Valve Disorders Heart valves regulate the flow of blood through the heart's four chambers—two small, round upper chambers (atria) and two larger, cone-shaped lower chambers (ventricles). Each ventricle has... read more , as well as high blood pressure High Blood Pressure High blood pressure (hypertension) is persistently high pressure in the arteries. Often no cause for high blood pressure can be identified, but sometimes it occurs as a result of an underlying... read more , also can eventually cause the ventricles to enlarge or thicken. However, doctors do not classify the heart muscle problems caused by those disorders as cardiomyopathies.
Cardiomyopathy can be caused by many disorders, or it may have no identifiable cause.
Cardiomyopathies often result in the heart not pumping blood adequately. This can cause 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 , including shortness of breath and fatigue. Some cardiomyopathies may also cause chest pain Chest Pain Chest pain is a very common complaint. Pain may be sharp or dull, although some people with a chest disorder describe their sensation as discomfort, tightness, pressure, gas, burning, or aching... read more , 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 , abnormal heart rhythms Overview of Abnormal Heart Rhythms Abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias) are sequences of heartbeats that are irregular, too fast, too slow, or conducted via an abnormal electrical pathway through the heart. Heart disorders are... read more , or sudden death.
To diagnose a cardiomyopathy, doctors ask whether the person has a family history of cardiomyopathy and then do blood tests, electrocardiography Electrocardiography Electrocardiography (ECG) is a quick, simple, painless procedure in which the heart’s electrical impulses are amplified and recorded. This record, the electrocardiogram (also known as an ECG)... read more , chest x-ray, echocardiography Echocardiography and Other Ultrasound Procedures Ultrasonography uses high-frequency (ultrasound) waves bounced off internal structures to produce a moving image. It uses no x-rays. Ultrasonography of the heart (echocardiography) is one of... read more , radionuclide imaging of the heart Radionuclide Imaging of the Heart In radionuclide imaging, a tiny amount of a radioactive substance (radionuclide), called a tracer, is injected into a vein. The amount of radiation the person receives from the radionuclide... read more , and magnetic resonance imaging of the heart Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) of the Heart With magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), a powerful magnetic field and radio waves are used to produce detailed images of the heart and chest. This expensive and sophisticated procedure is used... read more . In some people, doctors take a sample of tissue from the inner wall of the heart to examine under a microscope (endomyocardial biopsy). Other tests are done as needed to determine the cause. Treatment depends on the specific type and cause of cardiomyopathy.
The following are some English-language resources that may be useful. Please note that THE MANUAL is not responsible for the content of these resources.
American Heart Association: Cardiomyopathy in adults: Provides comprehensive information on symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of cardiomyopathies
American Heart Association: Pediatric cardiomyopathies: Provides comprehensive information on diagnosis, including genetic diagnosis and treatment of cardiomyopathy in children