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Modern Treatments For Disorders Of The Heart Muscles

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Patients with diseases of the heart muscle go to the University Hospitals Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute to get advanced care and treatments for their heart conditions. We use various tools and therapies to keep your disease under control and lower your risk of arrhythmias, heart attacks, and heart failure.

Heart muscle diseases, also known as cardiomyopathies, affect the heart muscle and how it pumps blood through your body. Heart muscle diseases are caused the heart muscle to get bigger or thicker, making it have to work harder. Even though heart muscle diseases are often passed down from generation to generation, they can also be caused by things like:

  • Alcohol abuse
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Diabetes
  • Heart attack
  • Heart valve disease
  • Hypertension

What is heart muscle disease?

Cardiomyopathy is a long-term disease in which the heart muscle gets bigger, thicker, or stiffer. Cardiomyopathy makes the heart muscle weaker, making it hard for the heart to pump blood and send it to all body parts. As the disease worsens, the heart’s electrical system stops working as it should. In the long run, cardiomyopathy can lead to heart failure, problems with the heart valves, and irregular heart rhythms.

Most of the time, doctors can’t figure out what caused the condition. Idiopathic cardiomyopathy is the name for this. Cardiomyopathy can be either inherited or picked up later in life. Several things, such as long-term high blood pressure, a heart attack, or other heart-related problems, can cause the acquired form.

People who are overweight, have diabetes, drink or use drugs too much, or have taken certain chemotherapy drugs are also more likely to get cardiomyopathy. Cardiomyopathy can cause complications and even death if it is not treated. If you think you might have cardiomyopathy, talk to your doctor.

Various Heart Muscle Diseases

Many kinds of diseases affect the heart muscle. Several of the most typical ones are:

  • Dilated cardiomyopathy: This is the most popular type of heart muscle disease. It causes the heart’s muscles to weaken and the chambers to get bigger. It stops the heart from getting enough blood to the rest of the body.
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy: This disease is often passed down from parent to child. It causes the heart muscle to thicken, making blood hard to leave the heart.
  • Restrictive cardiomyopathy: It is a rare disease of the heart muscles in which the heart muscles stiffen, and the ventricles cannot relax and fill with blood among heartbeats.

What can cause cardiomyopathy?

The cause of each type of cardiomyopathy is different. For instance:

  • Arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia: According to research, this is typically hereditary.
  • Dilated cardiomyopathy: A paper from 2010 says that between 30 and 48% of people get it from their parents. Coronary artery disease, cardiac arrest, high blood pressure, diabetes, thyroid disease, and infections are all things that other things can cause. Alcohol, toxins, and some drugs can also cause it.
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy: Many people obtain this situation from a parent.
  • Restrictive cardiomyopathy: The cause is often unknown but can be related to another disease or condition. For instance, it could be caused by amyloidosis, a disorder of the connective tissues, hemochromatosis, sarcoidosis, or some cancer treatments.

What are the possible causes of cardiomyopathy?

Some kinds tend to happen more often in certain age groups. More men than women tend to get dilated cardiomyopathy, the most common type. Most people with arrhythmogenic right heart dysplasia are teenagers or young adults. Other major causes of cardiomyopathy include:

  • Some chemotherapy drugs, as well as radiation treatments, which are used to treat cancer, can hurt the heart.
  • Using drugs or alcohol too much or too often for a long time
  • Having diseases like amyloidosis or sarcoidosis that can hurt the heart
  • Having cardiomyopathy, heart problems, or sudden cardiac arrest in your family
  • Having heart problems like high blood pressure that doesn’t go away, coronary artery illness, or a previous heart attack
  • Having a metabolic condition like obesity, diabetes, or something else.

New ways to look at images to confirm certain conditions

Our UH heart specialists utilize numerous advanced imaging methods, such as:

  • Blood test: Counts one red and white blood cell, hemoglobin levels, and other parts of your blood.
  • Chest X-ray: Creates images of the heart, lungs, airways, and blood vessels.
  • Cardiac catheterization: This procedure involves inserting a thin tube known as a catheter into a big blood channel leading to your heart to assess how effectively it is operating.
  • Echocardiogram (Echo): This test looks at the structure and function of your heart by using sound waves.
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG): This test records the electrical activity of your heart over time.
  • Stress exercise testing: Finds out how well your heart works when your body is stressed.

University hospitals have life-saving treatments.

If you are told you have cardiomyopathy, we will find out why and treat your heart to make it work better. Cardiomyopathy is usually treated by changing how you live and taking medicine. We may suggest one or more of the following heart surgeries or procedures:

  • Defibrillator: A defibrillator uses an electrical pulse to stop arrhythmias.
  • Coronary artery bypass (CABG surgery): This surgery aims to improve blood flow to a heart muscle that has become weak.
  • Heart transplant: A heart transplant is typically done as a last resort when other treatments haven’t worked.
  • Implantable artificial heart pumps: If your case is very bad, you may be given an implantable artificial heart pump. A failing heart can be fixed with an artificial heart pump. Thus there is no need for heart surgery.
  • Pacemaker: This device can help both sides of a heartbeat at the same time.

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Genetic Testing

If you suffer from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which is an inherited disease, you may be able to get genetic testing. Our genetic counselors can determine which genes make your parents, siblings, and children more likely to get this disease. So your family members can get the help they need before their symptoms worsen. Contact a team member at University Hospitals if you require more information regarding genetic testing or heart care.


Dilated cardiomyopathy is the most common type. It often occurs for no clear reason, but it can be passed down from parent to child. Changes in lifestyle, medicines, and procedures are all part of the treatment. Even though cardiomyopathy isn’t always preventable, eating a heart-healthy diet and exercising can help maintain your heart as healthy as possible.

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