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Cardiomyopathy – causes, side effects and treatments at

Friday, February 02, 2018 by

Cardiomyopathy refers to a progressive disease of the heart muscle or myocardium. According to, cardiomyopathy usually results in the myocardium weakening to a point where it’s no longer able to adequately pump blood to the rest of the body. As the heart grows weaker, it becomes more susceptible to other complications like heart valve problems or heart failure.

There are several types of cardiomyopathy, and these are:

  • Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) — The most common type of cardiomyopathy, DCM affects the ventricles and atria, or the lower and upper chambers of the heart. This condition causes the heart muscles to dilate and thin, which then leads to the heart chambers expanding. DCM can be inherited or brought about by coronary artery disease.
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) — Another common form of cardiomyopathy, HCM arises when heart muscle cells enlarge and thicken the walls of the ventricles. Blood is then unable to flow through the heart, which can then raise blood pressure or increase the risk of arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat.
  • Restrictive cardiomyopathy — An uncommon type of cardiomyopathy. Restrictive cardiomyopathy occurs when the ventricles become rigid and restrict blood flow in the heart. The scarring of heart tissue is a frequent cause of restrictive cardiomyopath.
  • Arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia (ARVD) — Although rare, ARVD is the top cause of sudden death among young athletes. This condition develops when the muscle tissue of the right ventricle dies and is replaced by scar tissue.

People with cardiomyopathy either inherit it or acquire this disease. Similar to many other heart conditions, cardiomyopathy affects people of all ages and races. However, there are numerous risk factors that greatly increase one’s chances of developing it, such as:

  • Family history of cardiomyopathy, heart failure, or sudden cardiac arrest
  • Heart-damaging disease like sarcoidosis
  • High blood pressure
  • Long-term alcoholism
  • Metabolic disease like diabetes
  • Severe obesity

Known side effects of cardiomyopathy

Most people will feel no symptoms during the earlier stages of cardiomyopathy. Many only discover that they have this disease after undergoing a chest x-ray. When the symptoms of cardiomyopathy do manifest, they tend to be similar across all types. These include:

  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness
  • Edema, or swelling of the feet, ankles, and legs
  • Fainting attacks
  • Heart murmurs
  • Heart palpitations
  • High blood pressure
  • Lightheadedness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weakness and fatigue

Body systems harmed by cardiomyopathy

In general, cardiomyopathy affects the heart. Several parts or one part of the heart can be harmed, depending on the form of cardiomyopathy. For instance, ARVD primarily impacts the right ventricle, while HCM damages the ventricles and heart chambers.

Food items or nutrients that may prevent cardiomyopathy

Adhering to a heart-healthy diet is one of the best ways to minimize the risk of cardiomyopathy. This kind of diet will call for the increased consumption of:

  • Foods high in monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats, such as salmon, avocado, tofu, and walnuts
  • Low-fat or fat-free dairy products
  • Protein-rich foods, like lean meats, poultry, eggs, and legumes
  • Vegetables, particularly leafy greens
  • Whole grains like brown rice and whole-grain bread

In addition, a heart-healthy diet will also require certain foods and beverages to be eaten in minimal amounts or cut out completely, namely:

  • Added sugars, like those found in sweetened drinks, cakes, pies, and dairy desserts
  • Alcohol
  • Foods high in saturated fats, such as whole-milk dairy foods, butter, palm oil, and fatty meat cuts
  • Foods high in sodium, like pre-seasoned or processed poultry, vegetables, and meats
  • Foods high in trans fats, particularly those made with partially hydrogenated oils

Treatments, management plans for cardiomyopathy

Treating cardiomyopathy largely depends on its severity and the symptoms. For example, a person may be prescribed beta blockers or ACE inhibitors to lower their blood pressure, or given blood thinners to prevent the formation of blood clots. Surgery may be required in some cases, specifically septal myectomy (usually for obstructive HCM) and surgery for the implantation of heart devices like pacemakers or cardiac resynchronization therapy devices. Heart transplants are saved as the last resort.

Another aspect of caring for people with cardiomyopathy is helping them manage the symptoms. This is usually done through lifestyle changes. On top of sticking to a heart-healthy diet, one should increase their physical activity and reduce stress as well. Getting enough sleep and rest, quitting smoking, and avoiding illegal drugs can all improve a person’s heart health by a considerable margin.

Where to learn more


Cardiomyopathy is a heart disease that affects the heart. Although are numerous types of cardiomyopathy, the symptoms are more or less the same across the board. These symptoms fatigue, high blood pressure, dizziness, and chest pain. Often times these symptoms won’t manifest until the disease has worsened.

Any person can be affected by cardiomyopathy, which is either inherited or acquired. Treating this disease usually means prescribing various types of medication or undergoing surgery. Cardiomyopathy can’t be fully prevented, but it can be managed through significant lifestyle changes like eating more heart-healthy foods, exercising more frequently, limiting alcohol consumption, and reducing stress.

Sources include: 1 2


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