Cardiomyopathies - Symptoms, Risk factors and Treatment

Cardiomyopathy is a disease of the heart muscle known as myocardium, that progresses over time. Due to it, the pumping ability of the heart gets compromised that causes further complications like;

  • Heart failure

  • Valvular defects of the heart

  • Irregular heartbeat

Different types of cardiomyopathies occur due to various reasons. In this article, we are going to discuss the types, symptoms, and outlook for cardiomyopathy. 


The symptoms of cardiomyopathy resemble that of heart failure because the pumping ability of the heart is compromised in both cases. The signs and symptoms of cardiomyopathy are as follows. 

  • Breathlessness on exertion

  • Fatigue

  • Weakness

  • Coughing

  • Breathlessness on lying down

  • Weight gain

  • Swollen ankles, feet, or legs

  • Loss of appetite

  • Edema/ swelling of ankles or legs

  • Chest pain 

  • Fainting attacks 

  • Lightheadedness 

Types of cardiomyopathies 

If broadly classified, cardiomyopathies can be classified into four types. 

  • Dilated cardiomyopathy 

  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy

  • Arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia (ARVD)

  • Restrictive cardiomyopathy

Dilated cardiomyopathy 

Dilated cardiomyopathy is the most common form of cardiomyopathy. It is a condition in which the heart muscles are too weak to pump blood to the body. 

As a response, the heart muscles stretch and get thin. Due to this, the heart chamber enlarged. It can occur due to a genetic tendency or coronary artery disease. Having it means your heart is enlarged as compared to normal. 

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy 

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is a fairly common form of cardiomyopathy. It occurs when the heart muscles thicken and prevent the flow of blood through your heart. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy can occur due to;

  • Genetic tendency 

  • Uncontrolled high blood pressure for a long time 

  • Uncontrolled diabetes

  • Thyroid disease

Arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia (ARVD)

It is a rare form of cardiomyopathy that causes abnormal heart rhythm. It can be a cause of sudden death in athletes. In this type, the heart muscle of the right ventricle is replaced by fats and fibrous tissues. 

Restrictive cardiomyopathy

It is the least common form of cardiomyopathy. It occurs when the ventricles of the heart get stiff and can not relax to fill up the blood. It can occur due to scarring of the heart that occurs after a heart transplant. 

Other types of cardiomyopathies are;

  • Peripartum cardiomyopathy 

  • Ischemic cardiomyopathy 

  • Alcoholic cardiomyopathy 

  • Non-compaction cardiomyopathy 

  • Pediatric cardiomyopathy 

Risk factors

Cardiomyopathy can occur due to any prior heart disease. It can affect people of all ages. The most common factors that can put you at risk of getting it are;

  • Alcoholism 

  • Uncontrolled diabetes

  • Uncontrolled high blood pressure 

  • Hemochromatosis 

  • Amyloidosis 

  • Heart attack

  • Long-term high blood pressure

  • Family history of cardiomyopathy, sudden cardiac arrest, or heart failure

  • Coronary artery disease

  • Severe obesity

  • Sarcoidosis


Cardiomyopathy progresses over time, leading to a life-threatening stage. Medications can help in prolonging your life. Along with it, you must practice some tips that promote heart health. Some of them are as follows. 

Stop smoking. If it is hard for you, consult with a therapist. They can help you in getting rid of the addiction by prescribing nicotine gum. 

Maintain a healthy weight according to your body mass index. If you are overweight, you can seek help from a nutritionist. They can help in creating a customized diet plan for you according to your needs and health condition. 

Limit caffeine intake. Excess caffeine intake is not good for your health as it is a CNS stimulant. 

Make sure you get enough sleep. Try to sleep for at least 8 to 9 hours at night time. Go to bed early. 

Manage stress by practicing stress-relieving exercises like yoga, meditation, or reading books. 

Limit alcohol intake. If you are already diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, you should try to stop consuming it. Alcohol can be highly injurious for your health, especially your heart. 

Exercise daily. But it is a big challenge for a person with a damaged heart to exercise. And at the same time, it helps in keeping your heart healthy and losing weight. Therefore, before you decide on an exercise plan for yourself, consult with a healthcare provider before. Try to do that under the supervision of an expert trainer in a well-equiped place. 

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