Cardiomyopathies can be the result of infectious, nutritional, metabolic, toxic, degenerative or autoimmune disorders. However in a lot of cases, the cause is unknown.
Cardiomyopathies are the disease of the heart muscles that weaken the force of cardiac contractions, thereby reducing the efficiency of blood circulation.
There are three principal forms of this condition: dilated, hypertrophic and restrictive cardiomyopathy.
In dilated cardiomyopathy , which is usually of unknown cause, metabolism (chemical activity) of the heart muscle cells is abnormal and the hearts walls tend to balloon out under the pressure.
In hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, the heart muscle is unusually thickened, this condition is typically inherited.
Restrictive cardiomyopathy is a condition in which the heart walls are uncommonly inflexible, so that the heart can’t fill adequately with blood. It is frequently caused by scarring of the endocardium (the inner lining of the heart) or by amyloidosis (infiltration of the muscle with a starchlike substance).
Symptoms and signs
Symptoms of cardiomyopathy include palpitations, chest pain and fatigue. Palpitations can be due to an abnormal heart rhythm such as atrial fibrillation (uncoordinated, rapid contractions of the upper chambers of the heart).
The condition can lead to heart failure, in which the pumping action of the heart becomes less efficient. Symptoms of heart failure include oedema (abnormal fluid accumulation in body tissue) and difficulty in breathing.
A chest X-ray may show enlargement of the heart, and echocardiography (an ultrasound technique for imaging the movement and structure of the heart) can show thickened heart muscle. A biopsy (small tissue sample removed for microscopic analysis) of heart muscle can reveal muscle cell abnormalities.
Symptoms of cardiomyopathy can be treated with antiarrhythmic drugs to correct the abnormal heart rhythm and diuretic drugs to control heart failure. In a lot of cases, heart muscle function deteriorates, and the only remaining option is a heart transplant.