Learn About Dilated Cardiomyopathy

What is the definition of Dilated Cardiomyopathy?

Cardiomyopathy is disease in which the heart muscle becomes weakened, stretched, or has another structural problem.

Dilated cardiomyopathy is a condition in which the heart muscle becomes weakened and enlarged. As a result, the heart cannot pump enough blood to the rest of the body.

There are many types of cardiomyopathy. Dilated cardiomyopathy is the most common form, but it may be the result of different underlying conditions. Some health care providers use the term to indicate a specific condition, called idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy. There is no known cause for this type of dilated cardiomyopathy.

Dilated cardiomyopathy
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What are the alternative names for Dilated Cardiomyopathy?

Cardiomyopathy - dilated; Primary cardiomyopathy; Diabetic cardiomyopathy; Idiopathic cardiomyopathy; Alcoholic cardiomyopathy

What are the causes of Dilated Cardiomyopathy?

The most common causes of dilated cardiomyopathy are:

  • Heart disease caused by a narrowing or blockage in the coronary arteries
  • Poorly controlled high blood pressure

There are many other causes of dilated cardiomyopathy, including:

  • Alcohol or cocaine (or other illegal drug) abuse
  • Diabetes, thyroid disease, or hepatitis
  • Medicines that can be toxic to the heart, such as drugs used to treat cancer
  • Abnormal heart rhythms in which the heart beats very fast for a long period of time
  • Autoimmune illnesses
  • Conditions that run in families
  • Infections that involve the heart muscle
  • Heart valves that are either too narrow or too leaky
  • During the last month of pregnancy, or within 5 months after the baby is born
  • Exposure to heavy metals such as lead, arsenic, cobalt, or mercury

This condition can affect anyone at any age. However, it is most common in adult men.

What are the symptoms of Dilated Cardiomyopathy?

Symptoms of heart failure are most common. They most often develop slowly over time. However, sometimes symptoms start very suddenly and may be severe.

Common symptoms are:

  • Chest pain or pressure (more likely with exercise)
  • Cough
  • Fatigue, weakness, faintness
  • Irregular or rapid pulse
  • Loss of appetite
  • Shortness of breath with activity or after lying down (or being asleep) for a while
  • Swelling of feet and ankles
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What are the current treatments for Dilated Cardiomyopathy?

Things you can do at home to take care of your condition include:

  • Know your body, and watch for symptoms that your heart failure is getting worse.
  • Watch for changes in your symptoms, heart rate, pulse, blood pressure, and weight.
  • Limit how much you drink and how much salt (sodium) you get in your diet.

Most people who have heart failure need to take medicines. Some medicines treat your symptoms. Others may help prevent your heart failure from becoming worse, or may prevent other heart problems.

Procedures and surgeries you may need include:

  • A pacemaker to help treat slow heart rates or help your heartbeat stay in sync
  • A defibrillator that recognizes life-threatening heart rhythms and sends an electrical pulse (shock) to stop them
  • Heart bypass (CABG) surgery or angioplasty to improve blood flow to the damaged or weakened heart muscle
  • Valve replacement or repair

For advanced cardiomyopathy:

  • A heart transplant may be recommended if standard treatments have not worked and heart failure symptoms are very severe.
  • Placement of a ventricular assist device or artificial heart may be considered.

Chronic heart failure becomes worse over time. Many people who have heart failure will die from the condition. Thinking about the type of care you may want at the end of life and discussing these issues with loved ones and your health care provider is important.

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What is the outlook (prognosis) for Dilated Cardiomyopathy?

Heart failure is most often a chronic illness, which may get worse over time. Some people develop severe heart failure, in which medicines, other treatments, and surgery no longer help. Many people are at risk for deadly heart rhythms, and may need medicines or a defibrillator.

When should I contact a medical professional for Dilated Cardiomyopathy?

Contact your provider if you have symptoms of cardiomyopathy.

Get emergency medical help right away if you have chest pain, palpitations or fainting.

Cardiomyopathy overview
Heart - section through the middle
Heart - front view
Alcoholic cardiomyopathy
What are the latest Dilated Cardiomyopathy Clinical Trials?
Randomized Controlled, Multi-centre Trial of Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Guidance of Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator Implantation in Non-ischemic Dilated Cardiomyopathy

Summary: Patients with diagnostic CMR images for assessment of LGE/fibrosis and evidence/presence of non-ischaemic myocardial fibrosis/scar will be randomized to the following treatment groups in a 1:1 ratio: ICD group or Optimal HF care group.

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Pediatric Cardiomyopathy Mutation Analysis

Summary: The goal of this protocol is to obtain information from individuals with cardiomyopathy and from their families in order to elucidate the molecular genetics of this disorder. This will provide the basis for future genetic counseling as well as contribute to elucidating the biology of normal and abnormal cardiac function.

What are the Latest Advances for Dilated Cardiomyopathy?
Clinical Outcomes in Patients With Dilated Cardiomyopathy and Ventricular Tachycardia.
Transendocardial CD34+ Cell Therapy Improves Local Mechanical Dyssynchrony in Patients With Nonischemic Dilated Cardiomyopathy.
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Who are the sources who wrote this article ?

Published Date: January 09, 2022
Published By: Michael A. Chen, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, Harborview Medical Center, University of Washington Medical School, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

What are the references for this article ?

Hershberger RE. The dilated, restrictive, and infiltrative cardiomyopathies. In: Libby P, Bonow RO, Mann DL, Tomaselli GF, Bhatt DL, Solomon SD, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 12th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2022:chap 52.

McKenna WJ, Elliott P. Diseases of the myocardium and endocardium. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 54.