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Can Cardiomyopathy Lead to Heart Failure?

  • Posted on: May 6 2022
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What causes cardiomyopathy and can it lead to heart failure?

Cardiomyopathy is a disease that affects the heart muscle, making it difficult to do its main job of pumping blood throughout the body. As the disease progresses, the heart muscle may begin to stiffen or become thicker or thinner than normal. This can result in a range of cardiac issues, including irregularities in beating, an inability to prevent blood from backing up into the lungs or other areas of the body, and even heart failure

The cause of cardiomyopathy cannot always be diagnosed. In some cases, it may have been inherited and, in others, the disease may be acquired as a result of having another disease or condition. Cardiomyopathy is known to be a major contributor to the development of heart failure and is at the top of the list of factors that lead to the need for a heart transplant. 

Cases of cardiomyopathy are sometimes divided into two main types; primary cardiomyopathy and secondary cardiomyopathy. The distinction between the two is that, with primary cardiomyopathy, there or no contributing factors and the tendency may have been passed down through heredity and, with secondary cardiomyopathy, the cause can be linked to another medical condition, such as hypertension or coronary artery disease. 

Another way of defining types of cardiomyopathy is based on how the heart muscle is affected. These main types include:

  • Dilated – in this type, the condition has resulted in the enlargement of one of the heart ventricles, which are the pumping chambers.
  • Hypertrophic – often an inherited condition, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy describes the thickening of the heart muscle. In children and young adults, this can lead to sudden death.
  • Arrhythmogenic – also often inherited and more common in men than women, this type causes irregular heartbeats. 
  • Restrictive – the least common of these types of cardiomyopathy is restrictive which results in the scarring or stiffening of the heart muscle. 

Causes and Risk Factors Leading to Cardiomyopathy

There is a wide range of conditions, diseases, and behaviors that can increase the risk of developing cardiomyopathy. Some of the most common ones include:

  • Family history, especially if it involves cardiac arrest or heart failure
  • Long-term hypertension
  • Obesity, which puts additional strain on the heart
  • Damage to the heart, such as from an infection, coronary artery disease, or heart attack
  • Alcoholism, or long term, excessive use of alcohol
  • Drug use, especially amphetamines, anabolic steroids, and cocaine
  • Chemotherapy drugs and radiation used in the treatment of cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Thyroid disease
  • Hemochromatosis (excess iron in the body)
  • Amyloidosis (buildup of abnormal proteins in the heart and other organs)
  • Sarcoidosis (growth of tiny collections of inflammatory cells in different areas of the body, including the heart)
  • Connective tissue disorders

Symptoms of Cardiomyopathy

Initially, there may not be any symptoms related to the early development of cardiomyopathy. This changes as the condition worsens, sometimes quickly or slowly over a longer period of time. Some of the more common signs and symptoms include:

  • Difficulty breathing, initially during activity and progressing to while at rest also
  • Dizziness or feeling of lightheadedness
  • Swelling in lower extremities; legs, ankles, and feet
  • Unexplained tiredness and fatigue
  • Rapid, pounding, or fluttering heartbeats
  • Pressure or discomfort in the chest area
  • Difficulty sleeping while lying flat on the back, a cough may also be present
  • Fluid buildup in the abdomen causing bloating

At Cardiovascular Wellness, our mission is to provide outstanding, timely, and personalized care to all of our patients. We are committed to improving your quality of life by designing a comprehensive plan of heart care, individualized to your needs. Information on locations and office hours for Cardiovascular Wellness can be found by clicking here.

Posted in: Heart Disease

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