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Quick Facts



The Manual's Editorial Staff

Last full review/revision Jul 2020| Content last modified Jul 2020
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What is cardiomyopathy?

"Cardio" refers to the heart. "Myopathy" refers to muscle that's not normal.

So cardiomyopathy is a heart disease that directly affects the heart muscle. Heart muscle is needed to pump blood.

  • A problem with your heart muscle keeps your heart from pumping blood properly

  • If your heart doesn't pump blood properly, you can be short of breath, weak and tired, and have swelling in your legs

  • Cardiomyopathy can be caused by certain heart infections, alcohol, certain medicines, or be an inherited heart muscle problem

  • Doctors do an ultrasound of your heart (echocardiography) and sometimes cardiac catheterization or MRI of your heart

  • Doctors will treat the cause of your cardiomyopathy and give you medicine to improve your heart's pumping, but sometimes you'll need heart surgery

What are the types of cardiomyopathy?

What causes cardiomyopathy?

Often the cause of the cardiomyopathy is unknown. In some people, cardiomyopathy is caused by:

What are the symptoms of cardiomyopathy?

Cardiomyopathy may not cause symptoms at first. But eventually your heart stops pumping blood properly. This can cause heart failure symptoms Heart Failure read more :

  • Feeling short of breath

  • Getting tired easily

At first, you may notice symptoms only when you exert yourself.

Other symptoms can include:

  • Chest pain

  • Fainting

  • Abnormal heart rhythms

How can doctors tell if I have cardiomyopathy?

How do doctors treat cardiomyopathy?

Different types of cardiomyopathy need different treatments, but these may include:

If your heart keeps getting weaker despite these treatments, you may need a heart transplant Heart Transplantation Heart transplantation is the removal of a healthy heart from a recently deceased person and then its transfer into the body of a person who has a severe heart disorder that can no longer be... read more . If you have certain kinds of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, surgically removing some of the thickened heart muscle may help.

Doctors may also suggest that you:

  • Lower your stress

  • Eat less salt

  • Avoid exercise if you have hypertrophic cardiomyopathy

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