These diseases of the heart muscle can cause serious complications including heart failure, abnormal heart rhythms, heart valve problems and sudden cardiac arrest. These diseases enlarge the heart or make it thick and rigid.

Cardiomyopathy can lead to serious complications including heart failure, sudden cardiac arrest, arrhythmia and heart valve issues.

Risk Factors

People of all ages and backgrounds can experience cardiomyopathy, however certain forms of the disease can be more prevalent in certain groups. For example, dilated cardiomyopathy is more common in African Americans than Whites and more common in men than women.

Additional major risk factors for cardiomyopathy include:

  • A family history of cardiomyopathy, heart failure or sudden cardiac arrest
  • A disease or condition that can lead to cardiomyopathy, such as ischemic heart diseaseheart attack or a viral infection that inflames the heart muscle
  • Diabetes
  • Severe obesity
  • Diseases that can damage the heart, such as hemochromatosis, sarcoidosis or amyloidosis
  • Alcoholism
  • High blood pressure


People with cardiomyopathy may experience many symptoms including fatigue, swelling in the extremities, chest pain, and shortness of breath.

Detection and Diagnosis

Cardiomyopathy is diagnosed using a variety of tests. These can include cardiac catheterization, echocardiography, stress testing, and more. Your doctor may want to know about your medical history including family history and what symptoms you have and for how long you have been experiencing them. Additionally, your doctor may perform a physical examination and further diagnostic testing for an accurate diagnosis.


Sometimes, dilated cardiomyopathy may come and go on its own, without the need for treatment. However, more severe cases may require attention. Lifestyle changes and medication can help manage cardiomyopathy. Other treatments include pacemakers and implantable devices, surgery, and nonsurgical procedures.

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