Cardiomyopathy refers to conditions that affect your heart muscle. If you have cardiomyopathy, your heart can’t efficiently pump blood to the rest of your body. As a result, you may experience fatigue, shortness of breath or heart palpitations.


  • Ischemic cardiomyopathy, caused by heart attacks or coronary artery disease (CAD).

  • Non-ischemic cardiomyopathy, types unrelated to CAD.

Sometimes, experts don’t know the cause of cardiomyopathy (idiopathic). Some factors or conditions can increase your risk of cardiomyopathy, including:

  • Autoimmune diseases, such as connective tissue diseases.

  • Conditions that damage the heart, such as high cholesterol diseases, hemochromatosis or sarcoidosis.

  • Endocrine conditions, such as diabetes or thyroid disease.

  • Family history of heart failure, cardiomyopathy or sudden cardiac arrest.

  • Previous heart attacks.

  • Pregnancy.


  • Fatigue.

  • Heart palpitations (rapid heartbeat).

  • Shortness of breath (dyspnea).

  • Swelling (edema) in the legs, calves or ankles.

  • Syncope (fainting).


  • Ambulatory monitoring uses devices that track your heart rhythm.

  • Cardiac CT uses X-rays to make a video of your blood vessels and heart.

  • Cardiac MRI uses radio waves and magnets to create images of your heart.

  • Echocardiogram uses sound waves to create an image of your blood flow and heartbeat.

  • Electrocardiogram (EKG) records your heart’s electrical activity.

  • Exercise stress test raises your heart rate in a controlled way to see how your heart responds.

  • Cardiac catheterization uses a catheter (thin tube inserted through a blood vessel) to measure your heart’s blood flow and pressure.

  • Myocardial biopsy studies a small sample of your heart muscle tissue to look for cell changes.


  • Achieving and maintaining an ideal weight for your height and age.

  • Eating a heart-healthy diet, including reducing your sodium intake.

  • Exercising regularly.

  • Limiting alcohol intake.

  • Managing and reducing stress.

  • Quitting smoking.



Heart medications can improve your blood flow, control symptoms or treat underlying conditions. You may take blood thinners such as warfarin (Coumadin), beta blockers such as propranolol (Inderal) or medications to lower cholesterol.

Devices to correct arrhythmias

Pacemakers or implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) treat irregular heart rhythms. These devices monitor your heartbeat. They send electrical impulses to your heart when an arrhythmia starts.

Devices to improve blood flow

Some devices help your heart pump blood more efficiently. Cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) devices control the contractions between the left and right sides of the heart. A left ventricular assist device (LVAD) helps your heart pump blood.


If you have severe symptoms or underlying heart conditions, your provider may recommend heart surgery. Providers usually only recommend open-heart surgery or a heart transplant when all other treatments have failed to bring relief.

diseases treatments health cardiomyopathy disorders cardiovascular-system prevention

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