Cardiomyopathy is a general term referring to diseases of the heart muscle which have many causes, signs, symptoms, and treatments. “Myopathy” means “disease of muscle tissue.” As your heart muscle becomes weakened, it becomes less able to pump blood to the rest of your body.
The early stages of cardiomyopathy may be unnoticeable. With advancement of the condition, you will notice some of the following signs, which will worsen with progression:
- Breathlessness with exertion (in some cases even with no exertion)
- Swelling of the legs, ankles, and feet
- Fluid buildup in the abdomen (bloating)
- Rapid and/or fluttering heartbeats
- Chest pressure/discomfort
- Dizziness, lightheadedness, and fainting
Your doctor will diagnose your cardiomyopathy based on your medical exam and history, your family history, and various test results (possibly including a blood test, chest x ray, EKG, Holter and event monitors, stress test, or echocardiogram).
Treatment will begin with key lifestyle changes, including quitting smoking, losing excess weight, adjusting sleep patterns, reducing stress, and treating related conditions, such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
Medicine may also be prescribed to target certain aspects of your condition. Your doctor may use a medicinal approach to
- Lower blood pressure
- Slow heart rate
- Balance electrolytes
- Remove excess fluid and sodium from your body
- Prevent the formation of blood clots
- Reduce inflammation
After treatment you should take care to follow some important behaviors:
- Take medicines as directed
- Monitor your weight
- Practice healthy eating
- Avoid alcohol, smoking, or drugs
Can cardiomyopathy be cured?
It cannot be cured, but it can be controlled through the actions listed above.