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Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy - Topic Overview

Alcoholic cardiomyopathy is caused by long-term alcohol abuse. It is a type of dilated cardiomyopathy. The heart muscle is weakened and cannot pump blood efficiently, leading to heart failure. Alcohol in excessive quantities has a directly toxic effect on heart muscle cells.

Symptoms are the result of heart failure and include fatigue, shortness of breath, swelling, and cough. Muscular weakness may also be present because of the effect of alcohol on muscles (alcoholic myopathy).

Treatment includes quitting drinking. Quitting drinking often results in improved heart function. Continued alcohol consumption, on the other hand, will continue to make heart failure worse. Treatment also often includes standard treatment for heart failure, such as lifestyle changes and medicines.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: March 12, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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