What is Cardiomyopathy?

Cardiomyopathy literally means “heart muscle disease” (myo= muscle, pathy= disease) It is the deterioration of the function of the myocardium (i.e., the actual heart muscle) for any reason. People with cardiomyopathy are often at risk of arrhythmia and/or Sudden Cardiac Arrest.

Little Known Stats

  • 1,200 people die each day from Sudden Cardiac arrest
  • 450,000 people die each year from Sudden Cardiac Arrest
  • 7,000-10,000 kids a year die from Sudden Cardiac Arrest
  • 42 people die every hour from Sudden Cardiac Arrest


Click on the below link to check out a prediction posted by the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation:
Gene Variant May Predict Sudden Cardiac Death Risk for Blacks | Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation

Click on the Wall Street Journal article below about a device called a capnograph. A capnograph can be used in rescuing victims of sudden cardiac arrest by measuring levels of carbon dioxide in millimeters of mercury.
96 Minutes Without a Heartbeat | WSJ.com

Normal Heart vs. HCM Heart

Cardiomyopathy is a serious disease in which the heart muscle becomes inflamed and doesn’t work as well as it should. In most cases, the causes of Cardiomyopathy are unknown. However, doctors are able to identify conditions that may cause or contribute to Cardiomyopathy. Those conditions include: sustained high blood pressure, pregnancy, excessive use of alcohol over the years, abuse of cocaine or antidepressant medication, and certain viral infections.

There are three main types of Cardiomyopathy – Dilated, Hypertrophy Cardiomyopathy and Restrictive.

  1. Dilated

    This is the most common form. In it, the heart cavity is enlarged and stretched. The heart is weak and doesn’t pump normally, and most patients develop congestive heart failure. Abnormal rhythms called arrhythmias and distrubances in the heart’s electrical conduction also may occur. Blood flows more slowly through an enlarged heart, so blood clots easily form.Hemochromatosis is a disorder in which your body doesn’t properly metabolize iron, causing it to build up carious organs, including your heart muscle. This can lead to a weakening of the heart muscle, resulting in dilated cardiomyopathy.

    Dilated Cardiomyopathy Treatment
    There may be anti-clotting drug therapy and antiarrhythmic drugs needed.

  2. Hypertrophy Cardiomyopathy (HCM)

    In one form of the disease, the wall between the two ventricles becomes enlarged and obstructs the blood flow from the left ventricle. In the other form of the disease, non-obstructive HCM, the enlarged muscle doesn’t obstruct blood flow. It’s considered a genetic disease that affects about one in 500 people

    Symptoms: shortness of breath, dizziness, fainting, and chest pain. Some abnormal heart rhythm cases can lead to sudden death. In most cases, there are no symptoms.

    HCM Treatment
    The usual treatment involves taking a drug known as beta blocker, or calcium channel blocker. In some cases an ICD (Implantable Cardioveter Defibrillator).

  3. Restrictive Cardiomyopathy

    This is the least common type in the US. The heart muscle of the ventricle becomes excessively “rigid”, so it’s harder for the ventricles to fill with blood between heartbeats. A person with restrictive cardiomyopathy often complains of being tired, may have swollen hands and feet, and may have difficulty breathing on exertion.

    Restrictive Cardiomyopathy Treatment
    Treatment of restrictive cardiomyopathy is difficult. Treatment is usually focused on treating the cause of this condition. Doctors recommend lifestyle changes and medications to treat heart failure.