What Is Cardiomyopathy
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Cardiomyopathy is a serious heart condition in which the muscle becomes inflamed, possibly from infection, and does not work as well as it should. There can actually be a multitude of causes for cardiomyopathy which includes some viral infections.
Individuals who suffer from cardiomyopathy will be diagnosed with either primary or secondary disease. Primary myopathy is attributed to a specific cause in the body, such as heart valve disease or congenital heart defects. Secondary cardiomyopathy is related to diseases which involve other organs or the heart. The heart muscle will become enlarged, thick or rigid and in more rare cases, muscles gets replaced with scar tissue.
As cardiomyopathy becomes worse the heart becomes weaker. It is less able to pump blood throughout the body and maintain a normal electrical rhythm. This leads to congestive heart failure, and arrhythmias. As the muscle becomes weaker other severe complications can arise, such as heart valve problems.
At this time physicians believe that the majority of individuals who suffer from cardiomyopathy do so as a result of a complication from coronary artery disease. Coronary artery disease happens when the arteries that delivers blood to the heart muscle itself becomes blocked. The blockages cause a decrease in oxygenated blood that is delivered to the heart muscle which then leads to damage to the muscle and some scarring. The majority of people who suffer from cardiomyopathy is the result of coronary artery disease are over the age of 65. However, approximately 50,000 people in the United States suffer from cardiomyopathy as a result of other conditions, and most of these people are younger.
There are four general types of cardiomyopathy. The first is dilated cardiomyopathy and is the most common form. This happens when the heart muscle becomes a weak, the weak muscle relaxes and the chambers expands. Approximately 30% of these cases are genetic and the rest occur from coronary artery disease. The next type of cardiomyopathy is hypertrophic. This condition happens when the wall of the heart becomes thicker and it prevents blood from flowing through the heart. This condition is fairly rare and physicians and researchers are still not sure as to why it happens.
The third type of cardiomyopathy is restrictive cardiomyopathy. This happens when the walls of the heart becomes stiffer and do not relax enough to allow the heart to fill with blood. This reduces the efficiency of the pump. Researchers have found that the most common cause is when amyloid proteins build up in the heart muscle or as a result of hemochromatosis. And the fourth category of cardiomyopathy is arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia. This is a very rare form of cardiomyopathy in which the right ventricle is gradually replaced by a layer of fatty tissue. Most common results is cardiac sudden deaths in which the heart stops beating and accounts for 1/5 of all cases of cardiac sudden death in people younger than 35. In fact, it is the leading cause of sudden death in young athletes. Unfortunately, not a lot is known about the disease and physicians estimate that somewhere between 30 and 90% of all cases are inherited.
There are some individuals who have cardiomyopathy and have no signs or symptoms, and need no treatment. For other individuals the disease will develop rapidly and symptoms are severe. Treatments for cardiomyopathy will include lifestyle changes, medications, implanted devices to correct the arrhythmias and nonsurgical procedures. The goal and treatment is to control symptoms, reduce complications and halt the progression of the disease.
Major risk factors include a family history of cardiomyopathy or heart failure, a disease or condition that can lead to cardiomyopathy, diabetes or severe obesity, diseases such as thematic Roman ptosis sob, sarcoidosis or amyloidosis, long-term alcoholism or long-term high blood pressure.
The signs and symptoms of cardiomyopathy are often the same as heart failure and include shortness of breath or trouble breathing, fatigue or swelling in the ankles feed or abdomen. Other signs can include those which are related to a lack of oxygen delivery to the brain or muscles, such as lightheadedness, dizziness, arrhythmias, heart murmurs or chest pain.
If you believe that you or anyone you know or love has these symptoms it is important to see your primary care physician or cardiologists as soon as possible. By addressing the underlying cause of the cardiomyopathy and resulting heart failure as well is initiating treatment protocols, and medications, many individuals are able to lead a productive lifespan.
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