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Our heart is basically a muscle. So when this muscle weakens the heart is unable to do its function i.e., to pump blood throughout our body and keep us alive.
The heart muscle gets progressively weak due to a disease called cardiomyopathy.
There are different types of cardiomyopathy caused by different causes. Untreated cardiomyopathy can lead to heart failure or early death. Treatment can’t cure the condition but can give you extra healthy years of life and prevent serious complications.
Cardiomyopathy has 4 main types, they are:
Dilated Cardiomyopathy: This is the most common form and its principal cause is that your heart muscle becomes too weak to pump blood. The heart muscles stretch and become thinner in this case leading to the four chambers of the heart to expand causing a pathology called an enlarged heart.
Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy: This happens due to genetics. It occurs when the walls of your heart thicken and prevent the flow of blood through this natural pump.
Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia: This is a rare form of cardiomyopathy. It causes sudden deaths of athletes and is caused when fat and fibrous tissues replace muscle in the right ventricle of the heart.
Restrictive Cardiomyopathy: This is the least common form of the disease. The cause is the stiffening of the ventricles, the part of the blood which receives blood. When these stiffen, the heart doesn’t get enough blood to oxygenate. Scarring of the heart due to heart disease and a heart transplant operation can be a cause of this stiffening.
Ischemic Cardiomyopathy: Ischemic cardiomyopathy is caused due to coronary artery disease which causes blood vessels supplying blood to the heart to become narrow. The heart doesn’t get enough oxygen and a person can die due to a heart attack.
Other types of cardiomyopathy are grouped into this category and can include:
Left ventricular noncompaction happens when the left ventricle has trabeculations, projections of muscle inside the ventricle.
Peripartum cardiomyopathy, another form of the disease can occur during or after pregnancy. This is a form of dilated cardiomyopathy and can be fatal. There’s no documented cause.
Alcoholic cardiomyopathy is caused due to alcoholism causing an enlargement of the heart.
Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, or broken heart syndrome, happens when extreme stress leads to heart muscle failure. Though rare, this condition is more common in post-menopausal women.
Doctors will decide the treatment after finding out the extent of damage due to cardiomyopathy.
Few people will not require treatment till symptoms like chest pain, dizziness, shortness of breath and edema appear.
Others whose life is affected due to symptoms are treated with lifestyle changes and medicines. The bad news is that cardiomyopathy can’t be cured but can only be managed and controlled by doing the following:
Heart-healthy lifestyle changes are key. You will be advised to maintain a healthy weight, eat a modified diet, get enough sleep, manage stress, and quit smoking.
Exercise is also crucial to keep the heart healthy and maintain a healthy weight through regular bouts of low-intensity exercise.
Medications for high blood pressure will be prescribed to prevent water retention, keep the heart beating normally, prevent blood clots and reduce inflammation.
Pacemakers and defibrillators can be implanted.
Surgery like heart transplant can be done as a last resort.