What is dilated cardiomyopathy?
Dilated cardiomyopathy is the most common form of cardiomyopathy. Also called congestive cardiomyopathy, it affects the chambers of the heart by weakening their walls. In most cases, doctors do not know the cause of dilated cardiomyopathy. When the cause is unknown, it is called idiopathic. Also called "congestive cardiomyopathy," dilated cardiomyopathy damages the muscle tissue that makes up the heart's pumping chambers. If the chamber walls become weak enough, the
heart can no longer perform its normal pumping action.
Blood flows more slowly through an enlarged heart, so blood clots easily form. A blood clot that forms in an artery or the heart is called a thrombus. A clot that breaks free, circulates in the bloodstream and blocks a small blood vessel is called an embolus. Clots that stick to the inner lining of the heart are called mural thrombi. If the clot breaks off the right ventricle (pumping chamber), it can be carried into the pulmonary circulation in the lung, forming pulmonary emboli. Blood clots that form in the heart's left side may be dislodged and carried into the body's circulation to form cerebral emboli in the brain, renal emboli in the kidney, peripheral emboli or even coronary artery emboli.
But some factors have been linked to the disease's occurrence. For instance, alcohol has a direct suppressant effect on the heart. Dilated cardiomyopathy can be caused by chronic, excessive consumption of alcohol, particularly in combination with dietary deficiencies. Also, dilated cardiomyopathy occasionally occurs as a complication of pregnancy and childbirth. Other factors are: various infections, mostly viral, which lead to an inflammation of the heart muscle (myocarditis); toxins (such as cobalt, once used in beers, for instance); and, rarely, heredity.
Some drugs, used to treat a different medical condition, also can damage the heart and produce dilated cardiomyopathy. Such drugs include doxorubicin and daunorubicin, both used to treat cancer. Whatever the cause, the clinical and pathological manifestations of dilated cardiomyopathy are usually the same.
More information on cardiomyopathy
What is cardiomyopathy? - Cardiomyopathy is an alteration in the function of the heart muscle. Cardiomyopathy is the deterioration of the cardiac muscle of the heart wall.
What're the symptoms of cardiomyopathy? - The symptoms of cardiomyopathy include fatigue, shortness of breath, fainting, leg swelling, and an enlarged and tender liver.
How is cardiomyopathy diagnosed? - Cardiomyopathy can be diagnosed by characteristic physical findings, electrocardiogram, echocardiogram, cardiac catheterization and radionuclide angiography.
What is dilated cardiomyopathy? - Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is the commonest form of cardiomyopathy, and one of the leading indications for heart transplantation.
What causes dilated cardiomyopathy? - No exact cause can be found for cardiomyopathy. Up to 30% of cases of dilated cardiomyopathy can be linked to heavy drinking.
What're the symptoms of dilated cardiomyopathy? - Typical signs and symptoms of dilated cardiomyopathy include fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, and swelling of the legs and feet.
What're the treatments for dilated cardiomyopathy? - Treatment for dilated cardiomyopathy is focused on relieving the symptoms and the extra load on the heart. Lifestyle changes, medicines, and surgery may be needed.
What is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy? - Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is the second most common type of cardiomyopathy and results in excessive thickening of the heart walls.
What causes hypertrophic cardiomyopathy? - Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is caused by the mutation in one of a number of genes that encode for one of the sarcomere proteins.
What're the symptoms of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy? - Symptoms of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy include shortness of breath, chest pain (angina), palpitations, dizziness and fainting attacks.
What's the treatment for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy? - Treatment of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is directed towards decreasing the left ventricular outflow tract gradient and to abort arrhythmias.
What's arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia? - Arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia (ARVD) is a type of nonischemic cardiomyopathy that involves primarily the right ventricle.
What causes arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia? - The cause of arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia is largely unknown. Apoptosis appears to play a large role.
What's the treatment for arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia? - Pharmacologic treatment of arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia involves arrhythmia suppression and prevention of thrombus formation.
What is restrictive cardiomyopathy? - Restrictive cardiomyopathy (RCM) is the least common cardiomyopathy. Restrictive cardiomyopathy can be caused by a number of diseases.
How restrictive cardiomyopathy is diagnosed? - The diagnosis of restrictive cardiomyopathy is usually based on a physical examination, echocardiography, and other tests as needed.
What's the treatment for restrictive cardiomyopathy? - There is no effective treatment for restrictive cardiomyopathy. Treatment of a causative disease may reduce or stop the damage to the heart.
How is cardiomyopathy treated? - Beta-blocker medicines, and calcium antagonist medicines are the mainstay of treatment for cardiomyopathy. Surgery may be indicated for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.