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Cardiomyopathy (kahr-dee-oh-my-OP-uh-thee) is a disease that weakens and enlarges your heart muscle. There are three main types of cardiomyopathy — dilated, hypertrophic and restrictive — all of which affect your heart muscle. Cardiomyopathy makes it harder for your heart to pump blood and deliver it to the rest of your body. There are many causes of cardiomyopathy, including coronary artery disease and valvular heart disease. Cardiomyopathy can lead to heart failure. Cardiomyopathy can be treated. The type of treatment you'll receive depends on which type of cardiomyopathy you have and how serious it is. Your treatment may include medications, surgically implanted devices or, in severe cases, a heart transplant.
Alternative Names of Cardiomyopathy are: Cardiomyopathy – peripartum.
Complications of Cardiomyopathy
Causes of Cardiomyopathy
Most of the time, the cause of the cardiomyopathy is unknown. In some people, however, doctors are able to identify some contributing factors. Possible causes of cardiomyopathy include:
The three types of cardiomyopathy are:
Signs & Symptoms of Cardiomyopathy
Some people who develop cardiomyopathy have no signs and symptoms during the early stages of the disease. But as the condition advances, signs and symptoms usually appear. Cardiomyopathy symptoms may include:
No matter what type of cardiomyopathy you have, signs and symptoms tend to get worse unless treated. In certain people, this worsening happens quickly, while in others, cardiomyopathy may not worsen for a long time.
Diagnosis of Cardiomyopathy
Your doctor will conduct a physical examination, take a personal and family medical history, and ask when your symptoms occur — for example, whether exercise brings on your symptoms. If your doctor thinks you have cardiomyopathy, you may need to undergo several tests to confirm the diagnosis. These tests may include:
A variety of other blood tests may be done, including those to check your kidney function and look for anemia and thyroid problems. Your iron level may be measured. Having too much may indicate an iron overload disorder called hemochromatosis. Accumulating too much iron in your heart muscle can weaken it and cause cardiomyopathy.
Treatments of Cardiomyopathy
The woman may need to stay in the hospital until acute symptoms subside.
Because the heart dysfunction is usually reversible, and the women are usually young, everything possible will be done to ensure survival.
This may include taking extreme measures such as:
For most women, however, treatment focuses simply on relieving the symptoms. Some symptoms resolve on their own without treatment.
A low-salt diet may be recommended. Fluid may be restricted in some cases. Activities, including nursing the baby, may be limited when symptoms develop.
Daily weighing may be recommended. A weight gain of 3 or 4 pounds or more over 1 or 2 days may be a sign of fluid buildup.
Women who smoke and drink alcohol will be advised to stop, since these habits may make the symptoms worse.
Prevention of Cardiomyopathy
Eat a well-balanced, nutritious diet, exercise to increase cardiovascular fitness, and avoid cigarettes and alcohol. Your doctor may advise you to avoid getting pregnant again if you have had heart failure during a previous pregnancy.
When to seek Medical Advice
See your doctor if you have one or more of the signs and symptoms associated with cardiomyopathy. Call your local emergency number if you experience severe difficulty breathing, fainting or chest pain that lasts for more than a few minutes. Because the condition is sometimes hereditary, your doctor may advise that your family members be examined for cardiomyopathy.
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