Dilated cardiomyopathy is a condition in which the heart becomes weakened and enlarged, and it cannot pump blood efficiently. The decreased heart function can affect the lungs, liver, and other body systems.
There are several different types of cardiomyopathy. Dilated cardiomyopathy is the most common form.
Cardiomyopathy - dilated
There are many causes of dilated cardiomyopathy. Some of these are:
This condition can affect anyone at any age. However, it is most common in adult men.
The most common causes of dilated cardiomyopathy in children are:
Symptoms of heart failure are most common. Usually, they develop slowly over time. However, sometimes symptoms start very suddenly and are severe. Common symptoms are:
Other symptoms may include:
Cardiomyopathy is usually discovered when the doctor is examining and testing you for the cause of heart failure.
A number of laboratory tests may be done to determine the cause:
Children will have:
Heart enlargement, congestion of the lungs, decreased movement/functioning of the heart, or heart failure may show on these tests:
Other tests may include:
Lab tests vary depending on the suspected cause.
When the cause of the dilated cardiomyopathy can be found, that condition is treated. For example, high blood pressure or coronary artery disease should be treated. If alcohol or cocaine use is the cause, your doctor will ask you to stop using them. Sometimes, no specific cause can be found, but the treatments listed below will still be used.
Attempts are also made to find a "trigger" that may have caused a sudden worsening in a patient's symptoms. Examples include not taking medication correctly, increasing salt or fluid intake, or drinking excess alcohol.
Treatment for cardiomyopathies focuses on treating heart failure. Drugs and treatments that may be used include:
See also: Heart failure
Some people may benefit from the following heart devices:
A low-salt diet may be prescribed for adults, and fluid may be restricted in some cases. You can usually continue your regular activities, if you are able.
You may be asked to monitor your body weight daily. Weight gain of 3 pounds or more over 1 or 2 days may indicate fluid buildup (in adults).
Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol, which may make the symptoms worse.
If the heart function remains poor, a heart transplant may be considered.
The outcome varies. Some people remain in a stable condition for long periods of time, some continue to gradually get sicker, and others quickly get worse. Cardiomyopathy can only be corrected if the disease that caused it can be cured.
About one-third of children recover completely, one-third recover but continue to have some heart problems, and one-third die.
Call your health care provider if you have symptoms of cardiomyopathy.
If chest pain, palpitations, or faintness develop seek emergency medical treatment immediately.
Hare JM. The dilated, restrictive, and infiltrative cardiomyopathies. Zipes DP, Libby P, Bonow RO, Braunwald E, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007: chap 64.
Wexler RK, Elton T, Pleister A, Feldman D. Cardiomyopathy: An overview. Am Fam Physician. 2009;79:778-784.
Bernstein D. Diseases of the myocardium. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 18th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier;2007:chap 439.