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Cardiomyopathy: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis & Treatment

October 28, 2022

Heart Conditions 101: Cardiomyopathy
Cardiomyopathy is a group of diseases that in which the heart muscle has a hard time properly pumping blood. These diseases can cause serious issues, there are treatment and prevention options for to limit its development, or avoid it altogether. While cardiomyopathy can occur in any age group, 1 in every 500 adults has some form of it.
A woman in pain, with one hand on her chest and another hand on her forehead
What are cardiomyopathy symptoms? 

Symptoms of cardiomyopathy can vary depending on the type and severity of the condition. They may include: 

  • Shortness of breath 
  • Fatigue 
  • Chest pain 
  • Irregular heartbeat 
  • Swelling in the legs and ankles 
    What are the types of cardiomyopathy? 

    Cardiomyopathy can be categorized into different types. Grouping is based on the particular underlying causes and symptoms. 

    Three of the most common forms of cardiomyopathy include: 

    Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM): Characterized by an enlarged heart muscle and can lead to arrhythmias and heart failure 

    Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM): Involves a weakening of the heart muscle that impairs its ability to pump blood effectively 

    Restrictive cardiomyopathy (RCM): Manifests as reduced ventricular filling due to abnormalities in diastolic function; causes a hardening of the heart muscle 

    Regardless of the type of cardiomyopathy a person may have, it’s vital to seek early diagnosis in order to receive the appropriate treatment and prevent further complications. 

    Someone pricking their finger to take a blood glucose reading
    What are cardiomyopathy causes and risk factors? 

    There are many potential causes of cardiomyopathy, one of which is coronary heart disease (CHD). Because causes are so wide-ranging, it’s often the case that the exact cause is unknown. However, there are certain risk factors that can increase the odds of developing cardiomyopathy, including: 

    • Genetics (family history of heart failure) 
    • Uncontrolled high blood pressure 
    • Diabetes 
    • Alcohol abuse 
    • Thyroid disease 
    • Autoimmune diseases 
    • History of heart attacks 
    • Viral infections 
      A man lying on the table, with a closeup of an ECG reading
      How is cardiomyopathy diagnosed? 

      When it comes to investigating potential cases of cardiomyopathy, clinicians can employ many different diagnostics and tests. One common approach is a physical examination, which can provide valuable information about the patient's heart size, pulse rate, and blood pressure. 

      In addition, electrocardiography (ECG) is commonly used to evaluate the electrical activity in the heart. Echocardiography, on the other hand, can provide structural information about cardiac structure and function. And other tools, such as myocardial biopsy or genetic testing, may help identify the underlying cause of cardiomyopathy in order to guide treatment decisions. 

      Shoes of someone walking
      Cardiomyopathy Treatment and Prevention 

      Various treatment options may be recommended for managing cardiomyopathy symptoms and limiting its development. Some of the more common medical interventions include medications to improve heart function and minimize complications and surgical procedures to correct structural irregularities or improve blood flow through the heart.  

      Following a heart healthy lifestyle can also slow cardiomyopathy, improve symptoms, and lead to an overall healthier (and happier) life. Some of the lifestyle choices we recommend are: 

          Ultimately, the best treatment approach will depend on individual factors like medical history and severity of symptoms. Nevertheless, it is crucial for anyone dealing with cardiomyopathy to work closely with a healthcare provider to find an effective treatment plan that meets their unique needs. 

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          Using Cardiogram for Cardiomyopathy 

          Cardiogram can also come in handy when it comes to keeping track of and getting a diagnosis for your cardiomyopathy. Keeping track of symptoms is the most important thing to do, and you can do that easily with Cardiogram. Some ways of keeping track of symptoms with Cardiogram include: 

          Tagging Symptoms

          Tagging on your heart rate graph when you feel symptoms can help narrow in on the potential cause (remember, cardiomyopathy can present with fatigue, shortness of breath, chest pain, and irregular heartbeats). Including what you were doing at the time & how you were feeling can help pinpoint potential causes for your symptoms.

          Tracking Symptoms

          Whenever you experience recurring symptoms, be sure to hit the “add symptoms” button on your Cardiogram app. This will help you to keep track of your symptoms, and allow your doctor to gauge the frequency and severity of your condition for a more accurate diagnosis. Remember, you can always add your own custom symptoms if you experience symptoms not listed.   

          Journaling

          By taking notes when symptoms arise, you and your doctor will be at an advantage, able to connect otherwise seemingly unrelated circumstances. 

          Enroll in a habit

          Because adapting a healthy lifestyle can ease symptoms and slow the progression of cardiomyopathy, enrolling in Habits can help improve your overall quality of life. You can choose from daily exercise routines, stress relieving habits, and good sleep hygiene techniques. On each habit, we will show you its’ clinical benefits and studies to back them up. Just be sure you've spoken with a doctor before engaging in vigorous activity if you regularly experience discomfort.   

          Join our facebook community

          If you have questions or concerns, it's important that you first seek help and advice from your doctor. However, our Cardiogram Communityon Facebook is another great resource, filled with other members who share similar experiences and enjoy helping others in the community. Our FB community moderator also has a healthcare background, and is ready to use their clinical knowledge to answer questions you may have regarding your data. 

          Share data with your doctor

          With Cardiogram Premium, you are able to download PDFs of your data to bring to your next doctor's visit. This can help support a diagnosis if you have evidence of what your symptoms are doing to your heart. This is why it’s important to make sure you are tagging, journaling, and keeping track of your symptoms on your Cardiogram app.

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          BE  YOUR OWN BEST HEALTH ADVOCATE


          DOWNLOAD CARDIOGRAM
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          ARTICLE RESOURCES

          1. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/16841-cardiomyopathy  

          2. Brieler J;Breeden MA;Tucker J. (2017). Cardiomyopathy: An Overview. American Family Physician, 96(10). https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29431384/ 

          3. Ciarambino, T., Menna, G., Sansone, G., & Giordano, M. (2021). Cardiomyopathies: An Overview. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 22(14), 7722. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms22147722 

          Heart Conditions 101: Cardiomyopathy
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