Dilated cardiomyopathy

Definition

Cardiomyopathy is disease in which the heart muscle becomes weakened, stretched, or has another structural problem.

Dilated cardiomyopathy is a condition in which the heart muscle becomes weakened and enlarged. As a result, the heart cannot pump enough blood to the rest of the body.

There are many types of cardiomyopathy. Dilated cardiomyopathy is the most common form, but it may be the result of different underlying conditions. Some health care providers use the term to indicate a specific condition, called idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy. There is no known cause for this type of dilated cardiomyopathy.

Alternative Names

Cardiomyopathy - dilated; Primary cardiomyopathy; Diabetic cardiomyopathy; Idiopathic cardiomyopathy; Alcoholic cardiomyopathy

Causes

The most common causes of dilated cardiomyopathy are:

There are many other causes of dilated cardiomyopathy, including:

This condition can affect anyone at any age. However, it is most common in adult men.

Symptoms

Symptoms of heart failure are most common. They most often develop slowly over time. However, sometimes symptoms start very suddenly and may be severe.

Common symptoms are:

Exams and Tests

During the exam, the health care provider may find:

A number of laboratory tests may be done to determine the cause:

Heart enlargement or other problems with the structure and function of the heart (such as weak squeezing) may show up on these tests. They may also help diagnose the exact cause of the problem:

Heart biopsy, in which a small piece of heart muscle is removed, may be needed depending on the cause. However, this is rarely done.

Treatment

Things you can do at home to take care of your condition include:

Most people who have heart failure need to take medicines. Some medicines treat your symptoms. Others may help prevent your heart failure from becoming worse, or may prevent other heart problems.

Procedures and surgeries you may need include:

For advanced cardiomyopathy:

Chronic heart failure becomes worse over time. Many people who have heart failure will die from the condition. Thinking about the type of care you may want at the end of life and discussing these issues with loved ones and your health care provider is important.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Heart failure is most often a chronic illness, which may get worse over time. Some people develop severe heart failure, in which medicines, other treatments, and surgery no longer help. Many people are at risk for deadly heart rhythms, and may need medicines or a defibrillator.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Contact your provider if you have symptoms of cardiomyopathy.

Get emergency medical help right away if you have chest pain, palpitations or fainting.

References

Hershberger RE. The dilated, restrictive, and infiltrative cardiomyopathies. In: Libby P, Bonow RO, Mann DL, Tomaselli GF, Bhatt DL, Solomon SD, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 12th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2022:chap 52.

McKenna WJ, Elliott P. Diseases of the myocardium and endocardium. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 54.


Review Date: 1/9/2022
Reviewed By: Michael A. Chen, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, Harborview Medical Center, University of Washington Medical School, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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