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Cardiomyopathy Causes

Possible causes of cardiomyopathy include: long-term high blood pressure; heart valve problems; heart tissue; damage from a previous heart attack; chronic rapid heart rate; metabolic disorders, such as thyroid disease or diabetes; nutritional deficiencies of essential vitamins or minerals, such as thiamin (vitamin B-1), selenium, calcium and magnesium; pregnancy; excessive use of alcohol over many years; abuse of cocaine or antidepressant medications, such as tricyclic antidepressants; use of some chemotherapy drugs to treat cancer; and certain viral infections, which may injure the heart and trigger cardiomyopathy.

Cardiomyopathy Definition

Cardiomyopathy is the deterioration of the function of the myocardium (i.e., the actual heart muscle) for any reason.

Cardiomyopathy Diagnosis

If cardiomyopathy is suspected, the diagnosis is based on a person's: symptoms and medical history; family history of cardiomyopathy, heart failure, or sudden cardiac arrest; physical exam; and results on diagnostic tests and procedures.

Cardiomyopathy Symptoms and Signs

Some people who develop cardiomyopathy may experience no signs and symptoms in the early stages of the disease. But as the condition progresses, signs and symptoms usually appear. Signs and symptoms of cardiomyopathy may include: breathlessness with exertion or even at rest; swelling of the legs, ankles and feet; bloating (distention) of the abdomen with fluid; fatigue; irregular heartbeats that feel rapid, pounding or fluttering; and dizziness, lightheadedness and fainting.

Cardiomyopathy Treatment

Depending on the type of cardiomyopathy, certain drugs may be prescribed to decrease the heart's workload, regulate the heartbeat, help prevent blood clot formation, and aid in the prevention fluid accumulation in the body. These drugs include vasodilators, ACE (angiotensin converting enzyme) inhibitors, digitalis (digoxin), anticoagulants ("blood thinners") and diuretics ("water pills").

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