Cardiomyopathy

Cardiomyopathy is a genetic disease. It means that you inherit it from your parents. It is not important how you got it. Except it is not anyone’s fault but lousy genetic luck. The disease is a progressive disorder that starts deteriorating the heart at a young age. The progression of the disease slowly causes the cardiac cells to be misaligned. The misalignment of the cells makes the conduction system work ineffieciently and eventually stops working. Think of the alignment of the cardiac cells as dominoes lined up to be knocked over; at first the set up is perfect; when one domino falls, it strikes the other and so forth. Eventually as time goes on the dominoes slowly move apart and sometimes the dominoes don’t hit one another as it happens in this disease. The fast falling dominoes in the example is like the electrical system of the heart and if the dominoes are misaligned at all, the conduction is not perfect or even none existent and thus the heart does not beat effectively.

There are 6 types and these genetic abnormalities are able to be detected and found so that proper treatment can be started as soon as possible. There is no cure for the diseases but they can be controlled with proper treatment.

1. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is a genetic disease that causes the heart wall to thicken and reduces the hearts ability to beat effectively. Diagnostic tests used to rule out HCM is an echocardiogram or electrocardiogram. Symptoms may include shortness of breath, fainting, dizziness and heart palpitations. Your doctor may suspect HCM if the above symptoms are associated with a heart murmur.

2. Arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC) is a disorder that gradually replaces heart muscle with scar tissue and fat. The process is similar to that of muscular dystrophy. The disease affects the rhythm of the heart and may affect one or both ventricles of the heart. The heart muscles enlarge and beat ineffectively. Symptoms include shortness of breath, dizziness, fainting, and palpitations. This disease is hard to diagnose and not fully understood.

3. Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) simply causes the left ventricle to be enlarged which can lead to heart failure and may require a heart transplant.

4. Cardiac conduction disease with DCM (CD-DCM) can be a wide selection of conditions that disrupts the hearts electrical system. Common forms of cardiac conduction disease is first degree AV block, second degree AV block and third degree AV block. First degree AV blocks are usually considered harmless but it is a first step in a progression of the disease ending with the more lethal third degree AV block.

5. Left Ventricular non-compaction (LVNC) is a result of malformation of cardiac muscle during development in the fetal stage. The malformation causes the left ventricle to be thinner in appearance with cracks forming the inner wall. The result is a heart that beats ineffectively.

6. Restrictive cardiomyopathy (RCM) is a disorder of the heart that is stiff and doesn’t allow full contraction. The heart is usually of normal size or slightly enlarged. Since the heart doesn’t fully relax an efficient beat or contraction of the heart is impossible, which leads to heart failure.

Treatments for the above conditions may involve medication to slow the heart down so it beats more effectively. Some cardiologists may recommend an implantable cardiac device (ICD ) to shock the heart if the heart goes berserk or use a pacemaker to control the rhythm of the heart if the heart beats are too slow or erratic. Some people may need surgery to correct a conduction problem with the heart.

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