Cardiomyopathy refers to diseases of the heart muscle. These diseases have many causes, signs and symptoms, and treatments. The heart muscle becomes enlarged, thick or rigid in cardiomyopathy, and in rare cases the muscle tissue is replaced with scar tissue.
As the condition worsens, the heart becomes weaker and less able to pump blood through the body and maintain a normal electrical rhythm. The result can be heart failure or irregular heartbeats called arrhythmias. A weakened heart also can cause other complications, such as heart valve problems.
The main types of cardiomyopathy are:
- Dilated cardiomyopathy
- Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
- Restrictive cardiomyopathy
- Arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia
Some other types of cardiomyopathy are called "unclassified cardiomyopathy." Yet another type is "stress-induced cardiomyopathy", also known as broken heart syndrome.
Cardiomyopathy can be "acquired," meaning it develops because of another disease, condition or factor, or "inherited," meaning the gene for the disease was passed on from a parent. Often, the cause isn't known. Cardiomyopathy can affect all ages, although certain age groups are more likely to have certain types of cardiomyopathy. This article concentrates on cardiomyopathy in adults.
Cardiomyopathy may have no signs or symptoms and need no treatment. But other cases of cardiomyopathy, the disease develops quickly with severe symptoms, and serious complications occur. Treatments include lifestyle changes, medicines, surgery, implanted devices to correct arrhythmias and other nonsurgical procedures. These treatments can control symptoms, reduce complications, and prevent the disease from worsening.
What Causes Cardiomyopathy?
Many times, the cause of cardiomyopathy isn't known, as is often the case when the disease occurs in children. Cardiomyopathy can be acquired due to another disease or condition. If cardiomyopathy is inherited, a gene has been passed down from a parent, something researchers are continuing to study.
Also in this section:
- Understand Your Risk of Cardiomyopathy
- Symptoms and Diagnosis of Cardiomyopathy
- Prevention and Treatment of Cardiomyopathy
- Cardiomyopathy in Children
This content was last reviewed March 2016.
Source: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services