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
- Coronary artery disease and
- High blood pressure, which can put stress on the heart walls.
valve diseases, including
aortic valve regurgitation and
mitral valve regurgitation.
- Heartbeat problems (arrhythmias).
which is inflammation of the heart muscle. It is caused by a virus or an immune
- Drinking too much alcohol, using certain illegal drugs such as
cocaine, or taking certain medicines such as
- Being exposed to toxic
metals, such as lead or mercury.
- Being pregnant. In rare cases,
dilated cardiomyopathy develops toward the end of pregnancy or during the first
6 months after a woman gives birth. Experts don't know why this happens.
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.
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