Cardiomyopathy refers to disease of the heart muscle. These diseases have a variety of causes, symptoms, and treatments. In cardiomyopathy, the heart muscle becomes enlarged or abnormally thick or rigid.
As cardiomyopathy progresses, the heart becomes weaker and less able to pump blood through the body. This can lead to heart failure, arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms) abd fluid build-up in the lungs or legs. The weakening of the heart also can lead to other severe complications.
Cardiomyopathy can have a specific cause, such as damage to the heart from a heart attack, high blood pressure, or a viral infection. Some types of cardiomyopathy are caused by a gene mutation and run in families. In many cases, the cause is unknown.
Cardiomyopathy can affect people of all ages, from babies to older adults. However, certain age groups are more likely to have certain types of cardiomyopathy. Treatment may involve medicines, surgery, non-surgical procedures, and lifestyle changes.
Some people live long, healthy lives in spite of having cardiomyopathy. Some people don’t even realise that they have the disease because they have no symptoms. In other people, the disease develops rapidly, symptoms are severe, and serious complications develop. Current treatments can reduce symptoms and complications from cardiomyopathy.