What Is Cardiomyopathy?

September 4 2017
September 3-10 is Cardiomyopathy Awareness Week. So what is this heart disease all about?

Cardiomyopathy is a term used to describe a disease of the heart muscle. The name means CARDIO – heart, MYO – muscle, PATHY – disease.

It is unknown how many people in Australia have this condition currently, but a general estimate suggests that perhaps one in five hundred may be affected.

The main types of cardiomyopathy are:

  1. Dilated or ‘enlarged’ heart (most common form)
  2. Hypertrophic or ‘thickened muscle’
  3. Arrhythmogenic right ventricular (more unusual form associated with arrhythmias)
  4. Restrictive or ‘stiff’ heart (least common)
  5. Ischaemic (medically induced)

Warning symptoms or complaints include shortness of breath, fatigue and a feeling of lethargy, palpitations, fainting attacks and sometimes chest pains.

Cardiomyopathy cannot usually be completely reversed or ‘cured’. However, it can be helped or controlled by treatments depending on symptoms. This may include medications, pacemakers, implantable defibrillators and, in a small number of cases, surgery. In its most advanced stages, cardiomyopathy may be treated by heart transplantation with good long-term results.

It is important to note that although the condition does vary in severity, the majority of those diagnosed will be able to lead a relatively normal life.

In hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, there is a 50% chance of the condition passing from a parent to a child. Upon diagnosis, screening of close relatives is always recommended. There is no way of predicting how severe the condition may be in an affected individual. For this reason, children in the family should be screened at regular intervals.

If you experience any symptoms or have concerns, call to schedule an appointment with one of our General Practitioners as soon as possible at 03 5229 5192 (Myers Street Family Medical Practice) or 03 5241 6129 (The Cottage Medical Centre) and provide a comprehensive description of your symptoms – their nature, severity, and frequency. 

For more information about this heart disease, visit the Cardiomyopathy Association of Australia Ltd