Saturday, 13 September 2014

Cardiomyopathy Disease of Heart Muscle

Cardiomyopathy
Cardiomyopathy is a general term for diseases of the heart muscle having many causes, symptoms, signs and treatments. It occurs when the walls of the heart chambers tend to get stretched, stiff or thickened and affects the ability of the heart to pump the blood in the body.

In other rare cases, the muscle tissue is replaced in the heart with scar tissue. As cardiomyopathy tends to get worse, the heart gets weaker and is unable to pump blood through the body to have a normal electrical rhythm which could lead to a failure of the heart or irregular heartbeats known as arrhythmias.

This in turn could cause fluid to accumulate in the lungs, feet, ankles, legs or abdomen. People suffering from cardiomyopathy are at risk of dangerous forms of irregular heartbeats which can lead to cardiac death and the most common type of cardiomyopathy is known as dilated cardiomyopathy. The term cardiomyopathy could theoretically refer to any disease related to the heart and is usually referred to severe myocardial disease which leads to heart failure. Some types of cardiomyopathy are inherited and are seen in children as well as younger individuals.

Different Forms of Cardiomyopathy

In the case of dilated cardiomyopathy, the muscle walls of the heart tend to get stretched and thin and cannot contract or squeeze sufficiently to pump the blood in the body. People with dilated cardiomyopathy are at greater risk of heart failure where the heart fails to pump enough blood to the body at the appropriate pressure.

Besides this, the person is also at a risk of valve problems, blood clots and irregular heartbeat and immediate treatment would be essential. The symptoms of heart failure may cause shortness of breath, extreme tiredness and ankle swelling.

Besides dilated cardiomyopathy, there are other types of cardiomyopathy namely hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy and restrictive cardiomyopathy. A heart transplant may be needed for people with severe heart failure. Cardiomyopathy differs from a heart attack though heart attack also tends to damage the heart muscles but may also be caused due to other reasons.

DilatedCardiomyopathy takes place in people between the age of 20 to 60 years more in men than women and when the heart muscles tend to start stretching and getting thin or dilate it could mean that the heart muscles is not capable of contracting normally and is unable to pump sufficient blood to the body. Over a period of time the heart tends to get weak which could lead to heart failure and other complications.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is considered a very common form of cardiomyopathywhich can affect people of any age group and occurs when the heart muscle cells tend to get enlarged causing the wall of the heart to thicken. This could further block the flow of the blood out of the ventricle and if a blockage takes place, the heart would need to work harder in pumping the blood to the body which in turn could lead to chest pain, dizziness, fainting or shortness of breath. This form of cardiomyopathy could also have other effects on the body.

Arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy is a rare type which takes place when muscle tissue in one area of the heart is replaced with scar tissue thereby disrupting the heart’s electrical signals causing irregular heartbeats. Some of the symptoms may include palpitations together with fainting after doing some physical activity which normally affects young adults and teenagers.

Restrictive cardiomyopathy tends to affect the older group of individuals wherein the heart gets stiff and rigid due to abnormal tissues like scar tissue replacing the normal heart muscles.

Conclusion 

There is no cure for this ailment, but it could be kept under control by maintaining a healthy diet, quitting smoking if one is prone to smoking, lose excess weight if overweight, reducing the intake of alcohol, get sufficient sleep, handle stress and ensure that any underlying condition like diabetes is kept under control.

Medical treatments may be needed in order to control the blood pressure, remove any excess fluid, correction of the abnormal heart rhythm or prevent the clotting of the blood. In cases with obstructive hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, the septum which is the wall dividing the left and right side of the heart get thickened, bulging into the main heart chamber.


 In such a case, an injection of alcohol in the heart is given to reduce portion of the muscle in the septum or a septal myectomy or heart surgery is done to remove part of the thickened septum, the mitral valve could be repaired simultaneously if required.

Individual with heart rhythm problems could also have the need of a pacemaker or some similar device that could be implanted to control the abnormal rhythm of the heart. Heart transplant is the last resort when other treatment is not effective and does not give much relief to the patient.

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