Cardiomyopathy is a disease resulting from abnormalities in the heart muscle. This disease is characterized by a weakening of the heart's ability to pump blood. Symptoms of cardiomyopathy can vary, ranging from easy fatigue, shortness of breath, dizziness, to chest pain.

The cause of cardiomyopathy is often not known with certainty. However, this condition can be related to certain genetic disorders or diseases. The disease that often triggers cardiomyopathy in adults is chronic hypertension, namely high blood pressure that has been going on for a long time.


Causes of Cardiomyopathy

Based on the cause, cardiomyopathy or  weak heart  is divided into four types, namely:

Dilated cardiomyopathy

Dilated cardiomyopathy  is a condition when the left ventricle of the heart widens and thins so that part of the heart cannot pump blood to the rest of the body optimally.

Dilated cardiomyopathy is the most common type of heart muscle disorder   . This condition can occur in pregnant women or women who have just given birth ( peripartum cardiomyopathy ).

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy  is caused by abnormal thickening of the walls and muscle of the heart. This abnormal thickening often occurs in the wall of the left ventricle of the heart. Thickened heart walls make it more difficult for the heart to pump blood normally.

Restrictive cardiomyopathy

Restrictive cardiomyopathy  occurs when the heart muscle becomes stiff and inelastic. This condition results in the heart not being able to expand and accommodate blood properly. As a result, blood flow to the heart becomes obstructed.

Arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC)

This type of cardiomyopathy results from scar tissue in the right ventricle of the heart. This condition can cause an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia). This type of cardiomyopathy is thought to be caused by a genetic disorder.

Cardiomyopathy risk factors

There are several things that can increase the risk of cardiomyopathy, namely:

  • Have a family history of cardiomyopathy
  • Suffering from overweight or obesity
  • Suffering  from chronic hypertension
  • Have a history of heart attack, coronary heart disease , or heart infection
  • Have  thyroid disease or  diabetes
  • Experiencing a lack of vitamins and minerals
  • Have a history of  chemotherapy or radiotherapy
  • Have a history of  hemochromatosis , amyloidosis, or  sarcoidosis
  • Have a habit of consuming alcoholic beverages excessively
  • Abusing certain drugs, such as cocaine, amphetamines, and steroids

Symptoms of Cardiomyopathy

Cardiomyopathy rarely causes symptoms at first. Symptoms will appear and develop along with the decreased work of the heart in pumping blood.

Some of the symptoms that can appear are:

  • Shortness of breath , especially after strenuous physical activity
  • Swollen legs (leg oedema)
  • Cough especially when sleeping on your back
  • The body gets tired easily
  • Bloated stomach
  • Chest pain
  • Dizzy vision
  • Heart palpitations ( palpitations )
  • Irregular heartbeat ( arrhythmia )
  • Dizziness and fainting

When to see a doctor

Check with  your doctor  if you experience the symptoms mentioned above. If you feel complaints of difficulty breathing, chest pain, headaches, or feel like you are about to faint, immediately go to the emergency room at the nearest hospital to get emergency help.

If you have factors that can increase your risk of developing cardiomyopathy, such as hypertension, have regular checkups with your doctor to prevent cardiomyopathy from occurring.

Diagnosis of Cardiomyopathy

Diagnosis of cardiomyopathy begins by asking about the symptoms experienced, as well as the medical history of the patient and his family. After that, the doctor will perform a physical examination, including  an examination of the chest wall .

To confirm the diagnosis, the doctor will carry out the following follow-up examinations:

  • Electrocardiogram (EKG), to detect the electrical activity of the heart and assess whether there are abnormalities in heart rhythm
  • Echocardiogram (heart ultrasound), to examine the structure and function of the heart, including assessing the condition of the heart valves
  • Treadmill stress test , to monitor heart rhythm when the body is under stress due to strenuous physical activity
  • Scanning with  a chest X-ray , CT scan, or MRI, to see the condition of the heart, including whether there is an enlarged heart ( cardiomegaly ).

Patients can also undergo  blood tests  to check the function of the liver, kidneys, thyroid gland, and to measure iron levels. Doctors can also advise patients to undergo genetic testing if any of their family members have a history of cardiomyopathy.

Cardiomyopathy Treatment

Treatment of cardiomyopathy depends on the symptoms and severity of the patient's condition. The goal of treatment is to relieve and prevent worsening of symptoms, and reduce the possibility of complications.

Patients with mild cardiomyopathy who have not experienced any symptoms are advised to adopt a healthy lifestyle, such as:

  • Maintain an ideal weight
  • Eat a balanced nutritional diet
  • Manage sleep and rest time
  • Manage stress well
  • Exercising regularly
  • Stop smoking
  • Reduce drinking coffee or caffeinated drinks
  • Limit consumption of alcoholic beverages

If cardiomyopathy is already causing symptoms, the doctor can give the patient the following types of drugs:

  • Antiarrhythmic drugs  , to regulate the heartbeat to remain regular and prevent arrhythmias
  • Antihypertensive drugs  , to maintain and manage blood pressure
  • Anticoagulant or blood thinner medications  , to prevent blood clots from forming which can make cardiomyopathy worse
  • Aldosterone inhibitor drugs, to balance mineral levels in the body so that the heart muscle and nerve tissue can work properly
  • Diuretic drugs  , to reduce fluid accumulation in the body

If drugs are unable to relieve the symptoms of cardiomyopathy that are already too severe, the patient may undergo  heart surgery . The types of operations performed include:

Implant a pacemaker ( pacemaker )

A pacemaker or pacemaker is a device that delivers impulses or electricity to the heart so that the heartbeat becomes more regular. This tool is implanted under the skin of the chest or abdominal area near the heart.

Myectomy surgery

Myectomy surgery is performed by removing some of the abnormal heart muscle tissue. This is so that the heart can pump blood normally. Myectomy surgery is performed on very severe hypertrophic cardiomyopathy  patients.

Heart transplant

This procedure is performed as a last resort when other procedures are ineffective for treating cardiomyopathy. Heart transplantation is  also a treatment option for end-stage heart failure.

This procedure is performed by replacing the patient's heart with a healthy heart from a donor.

Cardiomyopathy Complications

Cardiomyopathy can cause serious complications if not diagnosed and treated properly. Some of the complications that can arise are:

  • Heart failure
  • Blood clotting
  • Heart valve disorders
  • Cardiac arrest and sudden death

Cardiomyopathy Prevention

Cardiomyopathy caused by genetic factors cannot be prevented. However, in general, the risk of developing cardiomyopathy and other heart diseases can be reduced by living a healthy lifestyle, such as:

  • Lose weight if you are obese
  • Get enough rest
  • Exercise regularly
  • Manage stress well
  • Stop smoking habit
  • Reducing consumption of alcoholic beverages
  • Eat a healthy and nutritionally balanced diet
  • Carry out routine checks to the doctor if you have a disease that can increase the risk of developing cardiomyopathy, such as hypertension, diabetes, or thyroid disease
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