Cardiomyopathy is a disease of the heart muscle that reduces its ability to pump blood.

What is cardiomyopathy?

Cardiomyopathy means disease of the heart muscle. Cardiomyopathy affects the muscle of your heart and reduces its ability to pump blood to the rest of your body.

What are the types of cardiomyopathy?

There are different types of cardiomyopathies with varying causes:

  • Dilated cardiomyopathy. The chambers of the heart enlarge and weaken. This type include causes such as viral, alcohol, familial, idiopathic, and also peripartum cardiomyopathy.
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). The heart muscle thickens and makes it harder to pump blood.
  • Restrictive cardiomyopathy. The heart muscle becomes stiff and cannot fully expand to let enough blood enter its chambers. Blood that would normally enter the heart backs up in the circulatory system instead of getting pumped out to the body.
  • Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy (ARVC) or Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia (ARVD). This is a rare type of cardiomyopathy and may be a cause of sudden death among young people.

What are the symptoms of cardiomyopathy?

Common symptoms of cardiomyopathy include:

  • Heart palpitations
  • Fainting
  • Light-headedness
  • Breathlessness upon exertion (caused by fluid building up in the lungs)
  • Arrhythmias
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy may cause dizziness, fainting, heart murmurs and chest pain
  • Restrictive cardiomyopathy can cause swelling of the hands and feet

Talk to your doctor if you have one or more of these symptoms.

How is cardiomyopathy diagnosed?

Your doctor will review your medical history and may order the following tests:

What treatment is available for cardiomyopathy?

Your doctor may treat your condition with a combination of medication and lifestyle changes.

Medications may include ACE (Angiotensin converting enzyme) inhibitors, beta-blockers and calcium channel blockers.

Surgery options will depend on the type of cardiomyopathy you have. Talk to your doctor about the treatment options available. For patients with advanced cardiomyopathy, a heart transplant may be necessary.


The following resources have information about the types, causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment for cardiomyopathy: