Dilated cardiomyopathy is a condition in which the heart becomes weakened and enlarged. As a result, the heart cannot pump enough blood to the rest of the body.
There are several different types of
Cardiomyopathy – dilated
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Heart disease (which is caused by a narrowing of the arteries) and poorly controlled high blood pressure are the most common causes of dilated cardiomyopathy. These problems lead to a weakened and enlarged heart muscle.
There are many other causes of dilated cardiomyopathy, including:
- Alcohol or cocaine abuse, or medicines that can be toxic to the heart (such as drugs used to treat cancer)
- Abnormal heart rhythms in which the heart beats very fast for a long period of time
Autoimmune illnesses, when the immune system attacks and destroys healthy body tissue by mistake
- Conditions that run in families
Infections that involve the heart muscle
- Heart valves that are either too narrow or too leaky (regurgitant)
- Trace elements, such as lead, arsenic, or mercury
This condition can affect anyone at any age. However, it is most common in adult men.
Symptoms of heart failure are most common. Usually, they develop slowly over time. However, sometimes symptoms start very suddenly and are severe.
Common symptoms are:
- Chest pain or pressure (more likely when you exercise)
- Fatigue, weakness, faintness
- Irregular or rapid pulse
- Loss of appetite
Shortness of breathwith activity or after lying down (or being asleep) for a while Swelling of feetand ankles (in adults)
Signs and tests
During the exam the health care provider may find:.
The heart is enlarged
Lung crackles (a sign of fluid buildup), heart murmur, or other abnormal sounds
The liver may be enlarged
Neck veins may be bulging
A number of laboratory tests may be done to determine the cause:
Antinuclear antibody (
ANA), erythrocyte sedimentation rate ( ESR), and other tests to diagnose autoimmune illnesses
Antibody test to identify infections such as Lyme disease and HIV
Iron tests on the blood
TSHand T4 testto identify thyroid problems
Heart enlargement or other problems with the structure and function of the heart (such as weak squeezing) may show up on these tests:
Echocardiogram(ultrasound of the heart) Cardiac stress tests Chest x-ray Coronary angiogram
to look at blood flow to the heart
CT scan of the heart MRI of the heart Nuclear heart scan(MUGA, RNV)
Procedures and surgeries you may need are:
- A pacemaker to help treat slow heart rates or help your heart contract in a more coordinated fashion
- A defibrillator that recognizes life-threatening heart rhythms and sends an electrical pulse to stop them
Heart bypass(CABG) surgery or angioplasty to improve blood flow to the damaged or weakened heart muscle
- Valve replacement or repair
For advanced cardiomyopathy:
- A heart transplant may be recommended for patients who have failed all the standard treatments and still have very severe symptoms.
- Placement of a
left ventricular assist deviceor artificial heart may be considered.
Chronic heart failure becomes worse over time. Many people who have heart failure will die from the condition. Thinking about the type of
Heart failure is most often a chronic illness, which may get worse over time. Some people develop severe heart failure, in which medicines, other treatments, and surgery no longer help. Many people are at risk for deadly heart rhythms, and may need medicines or a defibrillator.
Calling your health care provider
Call your health care provider if you have symptoms of cardiomyopathy.
If chest pain, palpitations, or faintness develop seek emergency medical treatment immediately.