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Alternative namesCardiomyopathy - dilated
DefinitionDilated cardiomyopathy is a group of disorders in which the heart muscle is weakened and cannot pump blood efficiently. Decreased heart function affects the lungs, liver, and other body systems.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
The causes of cardiomyopathy are multiple and may include nutritional deficiencies, valvular heart disease , anemia , stress , viral infections (rare), alcoholism ( alcoholic cardiomyopathy ), coronary artery disease , and others. In some cases, no cause can be identified ( idiopathic cardiomyopathy ).
Note: Symptoms of heart failure often develop gradually. Some chest pain may also be associated with this disease.
Signs and tests
Cardiomyopathy is usually discovered on examination and testing for the cause of heart failure . Tapping the area with the fingers and feeling the area may indicate enlargement of the heart. Listening to the chest with a stethoscope reveals lung crackles, heart murmur, or other abnormal sounds. The liver may be enlarged. Neck veins may be distended.
An ECG may show conduction disturbances and/or arrhythmias , and may indicate enlargement of the ventricles. Heart biopsy may be helpful to distinguish dilated cardiomyopathy from other diseases. Lab tests vary depending on the suspected cause.
Hospitalization may be required until acute symptoms subside. Treatment is focused on relief of symptoms. Digitalis, vasodilators (drugs that dilate blood vessels), ACE-inhibitors, diuretics (water pills), nutritional supplements, and other medications may be prescribed to reduce symptoms.
The underlying disorder (cause) should be treated. Associated severe arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms) may need to be treated with an implantable defibrillator.
Expectations (prognosis)The outcome varies. Some affected individuals remain in a stable condition for long periods, some deteriorate gradually, and some deteriorate rapidly. Cardiomyopathy is correctable only if the underlying disease can be cured. It is incurable if the underlying disease cannot be corrected.
Calling your health care provider
Call your health care provider if symptoms indicating cardiomyopathy may be present.
PreventionModify risk factors that can be controlled by eating a generally well-balanced and nutritious diet, exercising to improve heart fitness, and avoiding or minimizing smoking and consumption of alcohol.
Update Date: 6/4/2002Seth Keller, M.D., Division of Cardiology, Yale New Haven Medical Center, New Haven, CT. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT