Dilated Cardiomyopathy - Topic Overview
What is dilated cardiomyopathy?
Dilated cardiomyopathy is a serious condition that weakens your heart muscle and
causes it to stretch, or dilate. When your heart muscle is weak, it can't pump
out blood as well as it should, so more blood stays in your heart after each
heartbeat. As more blood fills and stays in the heart, the heart muscle
stretches even more and gets even weaker.
Most of the time, this
heart failure. Heart failure does not mean that your
heart stops pumping. It means that your heart can't pump enough blood to meet
your body's needs.
What causes dilated cardiomyopathy?
common type of dilated cardiomyopathy develops after a heart attack has damaged
the heart muscle. But it can also be caused by many diseases or problems that
may or may not be related to your heart. Sometimes the cause is not known.
Some of the things that can lead to dilated cardiomyopathy
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:
You may get these symptoms slowly, over months or years.
Or you may get them suddenly, such as after pregnancy or an illness caused by a
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 dilated 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