Cardiomyopathy is a disease that affects the heart muscle and the way it pumps. It may occur as a result of damage to the heart, such as from a heart attack, or a person may inherit the tendency to develop cardiomyopathy.

  • In dilated cardiomyopathy, the chambers of the heart enlarge and weaken.
  • In restrictive cardiomyopathy, the heart muscle gets stiff.
  • In hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, the heart muscle thickens and cannot relax properly.

These changes in the heart muscle can lead to other heart problems such as heart failure. Heart failure means the heart cannot pump blood normally. When the heart cannot pump blood well, the rest of the body may not get enough blood, oxygen, or nutrients. Cardiomyopathy can also lead to other heart problems such as atrial fibrillation, which is a type of irregular heartbeat.

Treatment for cardiomyopathy depends on the type of heart problems that occur as a result of the changes in the heart muscle.

Last Updated: August 26, 2008

Author: Robin Parks, MS

Medical Review: Caroline S. Rhoads, MD - Internal Medicine & Stephen Fort, MD, MRCP, FRCPC - Interventional Cardiology

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