Cardiomyopathy is a very serious heart disease. It is classified as a secondary disease if it is associated with other diseases affecting the organs. It is classified as the primary heart disease when there are no other causes for it found like high blood pressure, heart valve disease, arthrosclerosis or congenital heart defects. Alcohol abuse, amphetamines and certain cancer drugs can cause certain types of cardiomyopathy.
In the early stages of the disease many people do not normally exhibit any cardiomyopathy symptoms. However, as the disease progresses some basic cardiomyopathy symptoms begin to appear such as:
There are three types of cardiomyopathy. These are Dilated, Hypertrophic and Restrictive cardiomyopathy.
Dilated Cardiomyopathy Symptoms
This type is the most common. Adults between the ages of 20 to 60 can develop it. There are men than women who have this type of cardiomyopathy. Dilated cardiomyopathey affects the ventricles of the heart. The left ventricle of the heart muscle will begin to dilate and stretch which then causes an enlargement inside the ventricle. The disease then begins to spread to the right ventricle and then to the atria. Dilation of the heart chambers begin to worsen as the heart tries harder to pump blood. The first dilated cardiomyopathy symptoms are shortness of breath and fatigue upon exertion. The patient tires easily. This disease can be caused by a viral infection. The first symptoms may be a sudden fever and flu like symptoms due to the viral infection. As the disease progresses to the point where the heart damage is sever, the heart rate will speed up and fluid retention in the lungs, legs and abdomen occur. Heart arrhythmias and heart valve problems occur and blood clots in the heart can form. People who have advanced cardiomyopathy eventually need to have a heart transplant.
Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Symptoms
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is the second type. Symptoms of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy are shortness of breath during exercise, chest pain, fainting or near fainting spells, and heart palpitations. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is associated with sudden death due to the onset of rapid heart rate and other dangerous heart arrhythmias that occur. Severe obstruction of the left ventricle can occur and a sudden drop in blood pressure during exercise which leads to fainting. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is found in all age groups but is most noted for the sudden death of athletes. However, sudden death is really very rare as only 1% of those with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy experience sudden death due to this disease.
Restrictive Cardiomyopathy Symptoms
Restrictive cardiomyopathy is the third type. Restrictive cardiomyopathy is found to be mostly in the elderly age group. The ventricles in the heart become stiff and rigid as normal heart muscle is replaced with abnormal tissue such as scar tissue. When the ventricles can not relax the atria becomes enlarged. Blood flow to the heart is reduced and heart arrhythmias occur. Restrictive cardiomyopathy symptoms include coughing, difficulty breathing while lying flat and upon exertion. Extreme fatigue, swelling in the abdomen as well as the feet and ankles are also other restrictive cardiomyopathy symptoms. There may also be fluid back up in the gastrointestinal tract and liver. The veins in the neck can become distended. Crackling in the lungs can be heard with a stethoscope.
Certain medical tests can be done to determine the presence of cardiomyopathy. These tests include Chest CT Scans, Chest MRI Scans and Chest x-rays. A coronary angiography and an electrocardiogram are also done to correctly diagnose cardiomyopathy and its types.
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