Cardiomyopathy refers to diseases of the heart muscle. These diseases have many causes, signs and symptoms, and treatments.
In cardiomyopathy, the heart muscle becomes enlarged, thick, or rigid. In rare cases, the muscle tissue in the heart is replaced with scar tissue.
As cardiomyopathy worsens, the heart becomes weaker. It's less able to pump blood through the body and maintain a normal electrical rhythm. This can lead to
heart failure or irregular heartbeats called
arrhythmias. In turn, heart failure can cause fluid to build up in the lungs, ankles, feet, legs, or abdomen.
The weakening of the heart also can cause other complications, such as heart valve problems.
Cardiomyopathy can be acquired or inherited. "Acquired" means you aren't born with the disease, but you develop it due to another disease, condition, or factor. "Inherited" means your parents passed the gene for the disease on to you. Many times, the cause of cardiomyopathy isn't known.
Cardiomyopathy can affect people of all ages. However, people in certain age groups are more likely to have certain types of cardiomyopathy. This article focuses on cardiomyopathy in adults.
The types of cardiomyopathy are:
Some people who have cardiomyopathy have no signs or symptoms and need no treatment. For other people, the disease develops quickly, symptoms are severe, and serious complications occur.
People of all ages and races can have cardiomyopathy. However, certain types of the disease are more common in certain groups.
Dilated cardiomyopathy is more common in African Americans that Whites. This type of disease also is more common in men than women.
Teens and young adults are more likely than older people to have arrhythmogenic right ventricle dysplasia, although it's rare in both groups.
Certain diseases, conditions, or factors can raise your risk for cardiomyopathy. Major risk factors include:
Some people who have cardiomyopathy never have signs or symptoms. Thus, it's important to identify people who may be at high risk for the disease. This can help prevent future problems, such as serious arrhythmias or SCA.
Source: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
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