Abdominal Pain Sever Coughing Hard To Breathe 4 Years Old Cardiomyopathy: A Big Heart Is Not Always A Good Thing

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Cardiomyopathy: A Big Heart Is Not Always A Good Thing

Having a ‘big heart’ may be a good thing in metaphorical context but in literature, it is a serious condition. The development of the heart muscle is called cardiomyopathy. Cardiomyopathy is actually a group of conditions that affect the ability of the heart muscle to pump blood.

The human heart has four chambers – two atria and two ventricles. The atria receive blood and the ventricles pump blood out of the heart. These chambers are made up of special muscles called cardiac muscles. Cardiomyopathy affects the size and shape of the heart muscle.

Cardiomyopathy can affect the heart muscle, thickening of the muscle, or stretching of the heart muscle.

Type of Cardiomyopathy

Cardiomyopathies have four main types: dilated cardiomyopathy, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia, and restrictive cardiomyopathy.

Dilated Cardiomyopathy

This is a condition where the heart muscles become thin and stretched which makes them weak and unable to pump enough blood. This is the most common type of cardiomyopathy.

Thinning of the heart muscle causes an enlarged heart. A weak heart can lead to heart failure.

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy

This is a type of cardiomyopathy in which there is thickening of the heart muscle that limits blood flow from the heart and from the heart to the rest of the body. The thickness of the wall of the heart means that the heart cannot handle as much blood as it should.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy often goes undiagnosed but is a common cause of heart attacks in young adults.

Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia

In this type of cardiomyopathy, the heart muscle of the ventricles is replaced by fat and fibrous tissue. This is a rare form of cardiomyopathy.

Loss of heart muscle can lead to heart failure and irregular heartbeat. This type of cardiomyopathy is caused by mutations in the genes that control the proteins that make up the heart. This causes the cell death of the heart muscle and the dead cells are replaced by tissue and fat.

Restrictive Cardiomyopathy

In restrictive cardiomyopathy, the walls of the ventricles stiffen and cannot relax. This affects the pumping of blood from the heart. It is the least common form of cardiomyopathy.

The cause is unknown but it could be caused by scarring after a heart transplant or it could be a side effect.

Other types of cardiomyopathy include stress cardiomyopathy, secondary cardiomyopathy, and ischemic cardiomyopathy.

Symptoms of Cardiomyopathy

Since cardiomyopathy affects the function of the heart, it can cause the following symptoms:

  • Can’t breathe

  • Fatigue

  • Abnormal heartbeat (arrhythmia)

  • chest pain

  • Dizziness and fainting

  • Less work tolerance

  • High blood pressure (high blood pressure)

  • swelling of the extremities especially the feet and legs

  • Fluid accumulates in the stomach

  • Constant cough, especially when sleeping

Treatment of Cardiomyopathy

Before starting treatment, a correct diagnosis of cardiomyopathy is needed. Diagnosis of cardiomyopathy includes physical examination, electrocardiography (ECG), blood tests, genetic testing, and echocardiography.

Treatment of cardiomyopathy may include the following:

Lifestyle changes such as eating less salt, not smoking, controlling weight, and limiting alcohol consumption.

Medications to treat high blood pressure, swelling and fluid retention, chest pain, irregular heartbeat, and medications to control heart failure.

Surgical procedures to remove thick muscle tissue

Implantation of the pacemaker

Heart transplant (in severe cases)

Implantation of internal defibrillator

Who Is At Risk For Cardiomyopathy?

Family history and genetics are one of the biggest risk factors for developing cardiomyopathy. Other factors that put a person at risk for cardiomyopathy are:

  • Severe obesity

  • Diabetes

  • Alcohol dependence

  • Sarcoidosis

  • High blood pressure

  • Heart attack

  • HIV/AIDS

Cardiomyopathy can be life-threatening but it often goes undiagnosed. Knowing your family history of heart disease along with regular heart checkups can help identify this condition and begin treatment if needed.

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