Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM)

This is the most common type of heart muscle disease called ‘Cardiomyopathy’. See ‘Cardiomyopathy’ for a definition of this term.

In dilated cardiomyopathy, the underlying disease process causes increase in the size of the left ventricle or both ventricles, and a decrease in the pumping ability of the heart muscle. An enlarged heart with decreased function, which has been caused by damage from one or more myocardial infarctions ‘heart attacks’ is called ‘Ischaemic Cardiomyopathy’ – see ‘Ischaemic Heart Disease’

The symptoms of dilated cardiomyopathy are described in the section “Cardiomyopathy”

The list of causes of this this type of cardiomyopathy is very long. A summary of the causes includes:

  • Infections including viral infections
  • Medications including some chemotherapy agents
  • Toxins, including alcohol
  • Inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, such as SLE, Sarcoid, Scleroderma.
  • Hormone diseases
  • Genetic diseases including familial and non- familial (sporadic) cardiomyopathy
  • Miscellaneous, for example, peripartum cardiomyopathy, radiation exposure, abnormal heart rhythms.

Your doctor will suspect this diagnosis, if you have any symptoms of cardiomyopathy or if you have any of the above conditions, or factors, which can cause this problem. The diagnosis of this type, dilated cardiomyopathy, is made primarily with echocardiography, which is commonly used to follow the condition’s progress. Other tests, such as other imaging tests and blood tests, may be needed to sort out the cause and give your doctor more information.

Treatment is directed at the causative factors, and at the symptoms including symptoms of congestive cardiac failure, and abnormal heart rhythms.