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Cardiomyopathy is a disease of the heart muscle that makes it harder for the heart to pump blood to the rest of the body. Cardiomyopathy can lead to heart failure.
The main types of cardiomyopathy include dilated, hypertrophic and restrictive cardiomyopathy. Treatment — which might include medications, surgically implanted devices, heart surgery or, in severe cases, a heart transplant — depends on the type of cardiomyopathy and how serious it is.
Dilated cardiomyopathy is a disease of the heart muscle that usually starts in your heart’s main pumping chamber (left ventricle). The ventricle stretches and thins (dilates) and can’t pump blood as well as a healthy heart can. Over time, both ventricles may be affected. The term “cardiomyopathy” refers to diseases that affect the heart muscle itself.
Dilated cardiomyopathy might not cause symptoms, but for some people, it can be life-threatening. It’s a common cause of heart failure. Dilated cardiomyopathy can also lead to irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias), blood clots, or sudden death.
The condition can affect anyone, including infants and children.
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is a disease in which the heart muscle becomes abnormally thick (hypertrophied). The thickened heart muscle can make it harder for the heart to pump blood.
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy often goes undiagnosed because many people with the disease have few if any, symptoms and can lead normal lives with no significant problems. However, in a small number of people with HCM, the thickened heart muscle can cause shortness of breath, chest pain, or problems in the heart’s electrical system, resulting in life-threatening abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias) or sudden death.
There might be no signs or symptoms in the early stages of Cardiomyopathy. But as the condition advances, signs and symptoms usually appear, including:
Signs and symptoms tend to get worse unless treated. In some people, the condition worsens quickly; in others, it might not worsen for a long time.