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Cardiomyopathy Signs and Symptoms

Cardiomyopathy is a type of heart failure where a severely weakened heart pumps only a small portion of the blood that is required by the body.  There are three main types of cardiomyopathy – dilated, hypertrophic and restrictive.  All three types affect the heart muscle, causing it to be weakened and enlarged.  We have put together a list of common signs and symptoms of cardiomyopathy below.

Also, we have information on diagnosis, helpful books and valuable resources for patients.

The Signs and Symptoms of Cardiomyopathy are as follows:

  • Great fatigue
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Dizziness and light-headedness
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Swelling of the legs and feet
  • Irregular heartbeat

Cardiomyopathy signs and symptoms tend to get worse over time.  In some people, this worsening happens quickly.

Dilated cardiomyopathy is the most common type of cardiomyopathy.  The left ventricle becomes enlarged, and is ineffective at pumping blood.  Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy involves the thickening of the heart muscle, leading to stiff and shrunken pumping chambers.  Restrictive cardiomyopathy is the least common type of cardiomyopathy, where the heart becomes rigid and cannot properly expand.

Diagnosis of Cardiomyopathy

A diagnosis of cardiomyopathy almost always involves the following tests:  a chest x-ray to determine if the heart muscle is enlarged, an electrocardiogram (ECG) to show electrical disturbances of the heart, an MRI to show images of the heart, and blood tests to measure levels of  BNP, a protein produced by the heart.

Books for People With Signs and Symptoms of Cardiomyopathy

The Official Patient’s Sourcebook on Dilated Cardiomyopathy
James N. Parker
The Official Patient’s Sourcebook on Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy
James N. Parker

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy: For Patients, Their Families and Interested Physicians
Barry J. Maron
The Official Patient’s Sourcebook on Restrictive Cardiomyopathy
James N. Parker

Cardiomyopathy Resources

General Patient Resources

  • The Cardiomyopathy Association

The CMA Official website. This site provides information on the main types of cardiomyopathy.

  • WD

List of 135 disease causes of Cardiomyopathy, patient stories, diagnostic guides, medical books excerpts online about Cardiomyopathy.

  • Med Help

The archives of cardiomypathy questions.  Collection of patient medical questions and answers about cardiomyopathy which are replied to by online doctors from leading medical institutions.

  • Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Association Community

Discussion forum.

  • About . com

Learn the causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of dilated cardiomyopathy with the  Heart Health Center Guide.

Medical Resources

  • Mayo Clinic

Comprehensive overview covers symptoms and treatment of this heart muscle condition.

  • Pub Med Health

Discusses causes, incidence, risk factors, treatment and prognosis.

  • Medline Plus

A service of the US National Library of Medicine.