by Debra Wood, RN
Cardiomyopathy is a heart disease. The damaged heart does not pump blood correctly. The disease usually progresses, and patients develop life-threatening heart failure. People with cardiomyopathy are also more likely to have irregular heartbeats or arrhythmias.
There are two categories of cardiomyopathy: ischemic and non-ischemic. Ischemic cardiomyopathy is most common. It occurs when the heart is damaged from heart attacks due to coronary artery disease. Non-ischemic cardiomyopathy is less common. It includes types of cardiomyopathy that are not related to coronary artery disease.
There are three main types of non-ischemic cardiomyopathy:
In many cases, the exact cause is not known. Possible causes include:
The cause of the initial damage is often not found, but may include:
Causes may include:
Risk Factors TOP
Factors that increase your chance of getting cardiomyopathy include:
Symptoms vary, depending on the type of cardiomyopathy and its severity.
Cardiomyopathy leads to heart failure and the following symptoms:
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. A stethoscope will be used to listen to your heart. Cardiomyopathies often produce heart murmurs and other abnormal sounds.
Images of your chest may be needed. This can be done with:
Tests may be done to determine how your heart functions. These can be done with:
Your bodily fluids and tissue may need to be tested. This can be done with:
Heart failure may be due to blockages in the arteries. Treatments to relieve these blockages include angioplasty, stent placement, and coronary artery bypass surgery. These may lead to improved heart function and symptoms. For certain genetic causes, other treatments may also improve heart function. For many patients, however, treatment is aimed at relieving symptoms and preventing further damage.
Changes to eliminate anything that adds to the disease or worsens symptoms:
Medications may include:
Surgical options include:
Actively treat hypertension, coronary artery diseases, and their risk factors. This is the best way to prevent most cases of cardiomyopathy. However, other less common causes are not preventable. If you have a family history of the disease, ask your doctor about screening tests. Do this especially before starting an intense exercise program.
American Heart Association
Heart Rhythm Society
Canadian Cardiovascular Society
The College of Family Physicians of Canada
Dilated cardiomyopathy. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.... Updated July 22, 2016. Accessed September 29, 2016.
Echt DS, Packer D, et al. Multicenter unsustained tachycardia trial. N Engl J Med. 1999;341:1882-1890.
Heart Failure Society of America 2010 executive summary of heart failure practice guidelines. J Card Fail. 2010;16:475-539.
Peripartum cardiomyopathy. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.... Updated April 20, 2016. Accessed September 29, 2016.
Restrictive cardiomyopathy. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.... Updated August 28, 2016. Accessed September 29, 2016.
What is cardiomyopathy? National Heart Lung and Blood Institute website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated January 1, 2011. Accessed September 9, 2014.
Last reviewed August 2014 by Michael J. Fucci, DO
Last Updated: 9/9/2014