Cardiomyopathy (kahr-dee-o-my-OP-uh-thee)is a disease of abnormal heart muscle. There are three main types of cardiomyopathy — dilated, hypertrophic and restrictive. Cardiomyopathy makes it harder for your heart to pump and deliver blood to the rest of your body. 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.

Symptoms Causes Risk factors Complications Prevention

In the early stages, people with cardiomyopathy may not have any signs and symptoms. But as the condition advances, signs and symptoms usually appear. Cardiomyopathy signs and symptoms may include:

  • Breathlessness with exertion or even at rest
  • Swelling of the legs, ankles and feet
  • Bloating of the abdomen due to fluid buildup
  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Irregular heartbeats that feel rapid, pounding or fluttering
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness and fainting

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.

When to see a doctor

See your doctor if you have one or more of the signs and symptoms associated with cardiomyopathy. Call 911 or 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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