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How is Cardiomyopathy Treated?

People who have cardiomyopathy but no signs or symptoms may not need treatment. Sometimes, dilated cardiomyopathy that comes on suddenly may go away on its own. For other people who have cardiomyopathy, treatment is needed. Treatment depends on the type of cardiomyopathy you have, the severity of your symptoms and complications, and your age and overall health. Treatments may include:

  • Heart-healthy lifestyle changes
  • Medicines
  • Nonsurgical procedure
  • Surgery and implanted devices

The main goals of treating cardiomyopathy include:

  • Controlling signs and symptoms so that you can live as normally as possible
  • Managing any conditions that cause or contribute to the disease
  • Reducing complications and the risk of sudden cardiac arrest
  • Stopping the disease from getting worse

Heart-Healthy Lifestyle Changes

Your doctor may suggest lifestyle changes to manage a condition that's causing your cardiomyopathy including:

Medicines

Many medicines are used to treat cardiomyopathy. Your doctor may prescribe medicines to:

  • Balance electrolytes in your body
  • Keep your heart beating with a normal rhythm
  • Lower your blood pressure
  • Prevent blood clots from forming
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Remove excess sodium from your body
  • Slow your heart rate

Take all medicines regularly, as your doctor prescribes. Don't change the amount of your medicine or skip a dose unless your doctor tells you to.

Surgery and Implanted Devices

Doctors use several types of surgery to treat cardiomyopathy, including septal myectomy, surgically implanted devices, and heart transplant.

Septal Myectomy

Septal myectomy is open-heart surgery and is used to treat people who have hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and severe symptoms. This surgery generally is used for younger patients and for people whose medicines aren't working well.

A surgeon removes part of the thickened septum that's bulging into the left ventricle. This improves blood flow through the heart and out to the body. The removed tissue doesn't grow back. If needed, the surgeon also can repair or replace the mitral valve at the same time. Septal myectomy often is successful and allows you to return to a normal life with no symptoms.

Surgically Implanted Devices

Surgeons can place several types of devices in the heart to improve function and symptoms, including:

  • Cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) device
  • Implantable cardioverter defibrillation (ICD)
  • Left ventricular assist device (LVAD)
  • Pacemaker

Heart Transplant

For this surgery, a surgeon replaces a person's diseased heart with a healthy heart from a deceased donor. A heart transplant is a last resort treatment for people who have end-stage heart failure. "End-stage" means the condition has become so severe that all treatments, other than heart transplant, have failed. Read more about heart transplant »

Nonsurgical Procedure

Doctors may use a nonsurgical procedure called alcohol septal ablation to treat cardiomyopathy. During this procedure, the doctor injects ethanol (a type of alcohol) through a tube into the small artery that supplies blood to the thickened area of heart muscle. The alcohol kills cells, and the thickened tissue shrinks to a more normal size. This procedure allows blood to flow freely through the ventricle, which improves symptoms.

Source: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Inherited Cardiovascular Disease Center

The Inherited Cardiovascular Disease Center is led by physicians whose experience and expertise were gained in academic inherited disease centers. The clinic staff works closely with surgeons on the medical staff when evaluating patients whose conditions may require surgical intervention.

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