Cardiomyopathy: Understanding the Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Cardiomyopathy is a chronic and progressive condition that affects the heart muscles, weakening the heart’s ability to pump blood effectively throughout the body. The condition causes the heart muscles to become thick, rigid, or inflamed, leading to various complications such as heart failure, arrhythmias, and sudden cardiac arrest. In addition, weakened heart muscles can cause the accumulation of fluid in the lungs, legs, and other organs, resulting in swelling and discomfort. The severity of the symptoms and the chambers of the heart that are affected depend on the type and severity of cardiomyopathy. It is essential to note that cardiomyopathy is a severe and potentially life-threatening condition that requires early diagnosis and proper treatment to manage the symptoms and improve outcomes.

Symptoms

Cardiomyopathy symptoms might vary based on the type and severity of the condition. Among the most common symptoms are:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Swelling in the legs, ankles, or feet
  • Irregular heartbeats
  • Dizziness or light headedness
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Shortness of breath

If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention immediately. Early diagnosis and treatment can help improve outcomes and quality of life.

Causes

The causes of cardiomyopathy are not always clear, but there are some factors that can increase the risk of developing the disease. These factors include:

  • Family history of cardiomyopathy
  • High blood pressure
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Heart valve problems
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Chemotherapy or radiation therapy

In some cases, cardiomyopathy can also occur without any known cause, which is called idiopathic cardiomyopathy.

Treatment

The treatment for cardiomyopathy depends on the type and severity of the disease, as well as the underlying cause. Some common treatments include:

  • Medications: Depending on the type of cardiomyopathy, medications may be prescribed to manage symptoms or prevent complications. Medicines which are very useful in cardiomyopathy; ARNI, SGLT2 Inhibitor, B Blockers. These are mortality benefits medicines.
  • Lifestyle changes: Making changes to your lifestyle can also help manage symptoms and improve overall health. This may include quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, and getting regular exercise.
  • Surgery: In some cases, surgery may be necessary to treat cardiomyopathy. This could involve implanting a device to regulate heart rhythms, such as a pacemaker or defibrillator, or performing a heart transplant.

Working closely with your healthcare practitioner to build an individualised treatment plan that is appropriate for your specific illness and needs is essential. Many people with cardiomyopathy can live normal and healthy lives with adequate treatment and care. Cardiomyopathy, a severe disorder, can have a significant impact on an individual’s health and overall quality of life. However, with prompt diagnosis, appropriate care, and lifestyle changes, the symptoms of the disease can be managed, and one’s health can be maintained.

 

By – Dr. Jay Shah, MD (Medicine), DNB (Medicine and Cardiology), FACC, FESC, Senior Interventional Cardiologist, at HCG Hospitals, Ahmedabad

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