Cardiomyopathy is a weakening of the heart muscle or a change in heart muscle structure. It is often associated with inadequate heart pumping or relaxation or filling with blood. Cardiomyopathy can be caused by viral infections, heart attacks, valve disease, alcoholism, long-term severe high blood pressure, and sleep disorders that affect breathing.
- Shortness of breath with exertion or at rest
- Edema of feet and legs or abdominal swelling
- Decreasing ability to tolerate physical exertion
- Palpitations, rapid heartbeat, or irregular heartbeat
- Loss of appetite or getting full easily
- ACE inhibitors
- Beta blockers
- Medicines that help the heart contract, such as hydralazine and nitrates.
If medications alone do not work, physicians may consider the following treatment options:
- Biventricular pacemaker/defibrillator (cardiac resynchronization therapy).
- Pacemakers with defibrillation functions
- Internal (implantable cardioverter defibrillator) defibrillator (ICD)
In severe cases, surgeons may also consider the following procedures to sustain life until a transplant donor becomes available:
- Coronary bypass surgery
- Repair or replacement of heart valves
- Left ventricular assist device (LVAD)
MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute
MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center partners with MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute, a national leader in research, diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disease.