Cardiomyopathy is the medical term used for a group of chronic (“chronic” means persisting for a long time, or recurring) diseases of the heart muscle. There are a number of different types of cardiomyopathy, for example:
- Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM)
- Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM)
- Restrictive Cardiomyopathy RCM)
- Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy/ Dysplasia (ARVC/D)
- Unclassified Cardiomyopathies.
Each of the above types of cardiomyopathy, in turn can have multiple different causes.
In the early stages of the disease process, there may be no symptoms at all. As time passes, patients can have symptoms and signs of a condition called “Congestive Cardiac Failure”- described elsewhere in this section. Other symptoms can include chest pain, fainting, palpitations.
The treatment of cardiomyopathy is directed at reversible contributors to the disease process, such as control of blood pressure, control and prevention of ischaemic heart disease, reduction of alcohol intake, repair or replacement of damaged heart valves, correction of anaemia, and treatment of arrhythmias. Treatment is also directed towards the symptoms and consequences of CCF, and may include, for example, the use of medications including diuretics, beta- blockers and ACE inhibitors. Treatment of cardiomyopathy is carefully tailored to each particular patient and the cause, and will need to be monitored and perhaps adjusted over time by the cardiologist.
In many cases, steps can be taken to prevent cardiomyopathy from manifesting or progressing, depending on the specific cause. In a few cases, screening family members for the underlying causative condition is appropriate.