Restrictive Cardiomyopathy - Topic Overview
What is restrictive cardiomyopathy?
cardiomyopathy is a serious problem that makes your heart muscle stiff. When
your heart muscle is stiff, it can't stretch to allow enough blood to enter its
lower chambers, the
ventricles . So blood that would normally enter the
heart backs up in your circulatory system.
Most of the time, this
heart failure. Heart failure doesn't mean that your
heart stops pumping. It means that your heart can't pump enough blood to meet
your body's needs.
What causes restrictive cardiomyopathy?
cause is never found. But we do know that there are a number of diseases or
problems that can lead to restrictive cardiomyopathy. These include:
- Cardiac amyloidosis, a buildup of an
abnormal protein in the heart muscle.
- Hemochromatosis, a buildup of iron in the heart
- Sarcoidosis, a rare type of heart inflammation.
- Radiation therapy and
chemotherapy, used to treat cancer.
- Carcinoid syndrome, a rare disease that causes certain
chemicals to be released into the bloodstream. These chemicals can stiffen
- Löeffler's syndrome and endomyocardial fibrosis,
conditions that can cause scar tissue in the heart.
factors. You can inherit diseases, including Gaucher disease and
Fabry's disease, that can lead to restrictive
cardiomyopathy. But these diseases can be treated to prevent restrictive
What are the symptoms?
You may not have any
symptoms at first. Or you may have mild symptoms, such as feeling very tired or
If your heart gets weaker, you will develop heart failure.
When this happens, you will feel other symptoms, including:
- Shortness of breath, especially with
- Trouble breathing when you lie
- Swelling in your legs.
Heart failure that suddenly gets worse is an emergency. Get
medical help right away if:
- You have severe trouble breathing.
- You cough up pink, foamy mucus.
- You have a new irregular or rapid heartbeat.
When you have heart failure, keeping track of your symptoms every day is important. Call your doctor if:
- You have a sudden weight gain such as
3 lb (1.4 kg) or more in 2 to 3
- Your ability to exercise changes.
- You have
any change in your symptoms.
How is restrictive cardiomyopathy diagnosed?
doctor will ask questions about your symptoms and past health. He or she will
want to know about recent illnesses and about heart disease in your family.
Your doctor will listen to your heart and lungs and check your legs for fluid
You may also have other tests, including:
In some cases, a doctor may want to look at a small
sample of heart tissue, called a
biopsy, to make a definite diagnosis.