Cardiomyopathy is a heart problem caused by a damaged heart muscle. There are different types of cardiomyopathy, which have different causes and affect different groups of people. The condition is usually managed with medication and living a healthy life.
What is cardiomyopathy?
Cardiomyopathy is a condition in which your heart muscle is damaged and becomes weak so it can’t pump blood as well as it should.
Most people with cardiomyopathy are only mildly affected and can lead fairly normal lives.
However, if you have cardiomyopathy and your heart muscle gets too weak, you can develop heart failure.
What causes cardiomyopathy?
The main causes of cardiomyopathy are:
- a viral infection affecting the heart
- heavy alcohol consumption
- a heart attack or coronary heart disease
- family history of cardiomyopathy.
Cardiomyopathy is sometimes called either primary or secondary. In primary cardiomyopathy, the cause is not known, while in secondary cardiomyopathy, tests are able to show the cause.
Types of cardiomyopathy
- In dilated cardiomyopathy, your heart muscle stretches and become thinner, so it hasn’t got the strength to beat properly.
- In restrictive cardiomyopathy, your heart becomes rigid and can’t relax enough to beat properly.
- In hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, your heart muscle enlarges and the walls of the heart thicken - leaving too little room for blood in the heart.
- In arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy, the muscle in part of your heart is replaced with scar tissue.
Living with cardiomyopathy
If you have cardiomyopathy, it’s important to live a healthy life as far as possible. You can do this by:
- having a healthy diet
- not taking too much salt
- not drinking too much alcohol
- not no smoking
- exercising regularly.
However, some people will also need medicines, some will need surgery and some will need an implantable device to keep their heart going properly.
For more information about cardiomyopathy, talk to your doctor or visit the Cardiomyopathy Association of Australia website.
Last reviewed: December 2015