What is Cardiomyopathy?
It is a group of diseases that affect the heart muscles. It manifests itself in different forms as explained below
• Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy – The disease has few symptoms and it can go unnoticed. Under this condition, the heart muscles become thick making it difficult for the heart to pump blood. This thickened heart muscle can cause short breath and chest pain
• Dilated cardiomyopathy – This is a condition in which the heart becomes enlarged or dilated and cannot pump the blood effectively. Symptoms include swollen legs, short breath, chest pain, fever etc
• Restrictive cardiomyopathy – In this condition, the walls of the heart are rigid but not thickened like in the case of Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. This, therefore, restricts the heart from stretching
• Arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia –This condition is very rare since it is hereditary. It is caused by genetic heart defects.
• Tokotsubo cardiomyopathy – This is also known as stress cardiomyopathy. This is a condition whereby there is a sudden temporary weakening of some portion of heart muscle. This weakening can be caused by stress
Basically, there are general signs of Cardiomyopathy. They include but not limited to:
• Swelling of legs and feet
• Stomach Bloating
• Rapid heartbeats
• Chest pain and pressure
Causes of Cardiomyopathy
• Prolonged high blood pressure –This affects the proper functioning of the heart leading to heart conditions
• Heart tissue damages resulting from the heart attack – This heart damage makes the heart weak leading to cardiomyopathy
• Problems of heart valves – If the heart valves are not functioning right this leads to heart conditions
• Metabolic disorders such as diabetes and obesity – This fuels the accumulation of fat in the body leading to heart conditions.
• Complications during pregnancy –Complications during pregnancy can cause heart problems that can lead to cardiomyopathy.
• Substance abuse such as cocaine –This leads to other conditions like high blood pressure which in turn leads to the impairment of the heart
• Too much alcohol
Treatment of Cardiomyopathy
Treatment of cardiomyopathy depends on the type and how damaged your heart is. Some people may not seek medical attention until the symptoms manifest itself. It is important to have regular checks since some types of Cardiomyopathy may not show any signs until at later stages when they are beyond salvage.
Cardiomyopathy has no cure but you can control and manage it through the following options.
• Change to a healthy lifestyle – This can be achieved by taking a balanced diet and avoiding food with a lot of cholesterol getting enough sleep to manage your stress, avoid smoking and alcohol. You can also make it a habit to do exercise so as to keep your heart healthy and improve your blood circulation.
• Manage through medication that prevents water retention – reduce blood pressure, prevent blood clot and reduce inflammation
• Surgically implanted devices – These are devices that are implanted inside the heart so as to boost its functionality.
• Heart transplant – As we have said treating the heart is not possible but there is an option of implanting a different heart.