Cardiomyopathy (KAR-dee-oh-my-OP-ah-thee) is a disease in which the heart muscle becomes weak and enlarged, making it difficult to pump blood through the body. There are several types of cardiomyopathy.
People in all age groups can have cardiomyopathy. It can be passed down through families (inherited) or developed from causes such as infections, metabolic disorders, coronary artery disease, and nutritional deficiencies. Drug and alcohol abuse and exposure to toxins can also cause cardiomyopathy. However, the cause is not always known.
Symptoms of cardiomyopathy can include shortness of breath; fatigue; swelling in the legs, ankles, and feet; bloating; dizziness; and fainting. Someone with cardiomyopathy may not notice the signs early on, but as the disease progresses, so do the symptoms.
Cardiomyopathy is a serious condition and if left untreated, can lead to a life-threatening arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat), heart valve problems, blood clots, and even heart failure.
There is no cure for cardiomyopathy, but it can be treated. Lifestyle changes, medications, and surgically implanted devices can help manage symptoms and stop the disease from worsening. In severe cases, a heart transplant may be necessary.
All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.
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