About This Condition
Cardiomyopathy refers to abnormalities in the structure or function of the heart muscle. There are three major types of cardiomyopathy: dilated congestive, hypertrophic, and restrictive.
The most prevalent form is dilated congestive cardiomyopathy (DCM). In people with DCM, the heart muscle is damaged, most commonly by coronary artery disease (atherosclerosis).1 People with diabetes have been reported to be at increased risk of DCM.2 DCM can also be triggered by alcohol abuse, infections, exposure to certain drugs and toxins, nutritional deficiencies, connective tissue diseases, hereditary disorders, and pregnancy.
In DCM, the heart gradually loses its efficiency as a pump. Cardiomyopathy is a serious health condition and requires expert medical care rather than self-treatment. However, because of the associations between cardiomyopathy and diseases such as atherosclerosis, diabetes, hypertension, and congestive heart failure, lifestyle recommendations for the prevention of these conditions may also help prevent DCM.
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is usually a hereditary disorder, although the incidence of this form of cardiomyopathy may also be higher in people with hypertension.3 Restrictive cardiomyopathy is usually due to a connective tissue disease, cancer, or an autoimmune condition. Both hypertrophic and restrictive cardiomyopathies are relatively uncommon.
People with cardiomyopathy may have difficulty breathing during light exertion, and they may become fatigued easily. Other chronic symptoms are swelling around the ankles and an enlarged abdomen.
Severe cases might require heart transplantation surgery.