Cardiomyopathy is a heart disease. The damaged heart does not pump blood correctly. The disease usually progresses, and patients develop life-threatening heart failure. People with cardiomyopathy are also more likely to have irregular heartbeats orarrhythmias.
There are two categories of cardiomyopathy: ischemic and non-ischemic. Ischemic cardiomyopathy is most common. It occurs when the heart is damaged from heart attacks due to coronary artery disease. Non-ischemic cardiomyopathy is less common. It includes types of cardiomyopathy that are not related to coronary artery disease.
There are three main types of non-ischemic cardiomyopathy:
- Dilated—Damaged heart muscles lead to an enlarged, floppy heart. The heart stretches as it tries to make up for a weakened ability to pump.
- Hypertrophic—Heart muscle fibers enlarge abnormally. The heart does not relax correctly between beats. The heart wall thickens, leaving less space for blood to fill the chambers, so less blood is pumped from the heart.
- Restrictive—Parts of the heart wall stiffen. Thickening often occurs due to abnormal tissue invading the heart.
Normal Heart and Heart With Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy
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In many cases, the exact cause is not known. Possible causes include:
The cause of the initial damage is often not found, but may include:
- Ischemic heart disease with decreased blood flow to your heart
- Infections, usually viral
- Chronic exposure to toxins, including alcohol and some chemotherapy drugs
- A rare complication of pregnancy or childbirth (probably immune-related)
- Rarely, other illnesses, including rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, orthyroid disease
Causes may include:
- Inherited (sometimes present at birth but often developing in teens)
- Aging, associated with hypertension
Causes are usually related to another condition, such as:
Last reviewedSeptember 2012by Michael J. Fucci, DO
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.