Cardiomyopathy is a condition of the heart in which a departure from the normal functioning of the heart muscles is seen as a result of various factors. The degree to which there is a malfunction and the extent of time for which it has been present is not in direct correlation with the appearance of symptoms. Hence it is not often possible to determine exactly what causes the malfunction
Dilated Cardiomyopathy is a specific condition in which the myocardium or the heart muscle becomes weakened and enlarged, therefore inadequate to pump blood efficiently. This decreased blood supply affects the general functioning of the body systems. A portion of the myocardium is dilated in most cases without any apparent cause. This leads to an impairment of the left/right ventricular pumping function of the heart which further contributes to progressive cardiac enlargement and Hypertrophy, which is the increase in volume of an organ or tissue due to enlargement of its component cells.
Even though an eminent cause is not seen, Dilated Cardiomyopathy is attributed to the damage caused to the myocardium due to a number of causes. Such as:
- Toxic agents
- Metabolic Agents
- Infectious agents
- Fibrous change or a change of the tissue of the myocardium resulting from a previous Heart Attack or Myocardial Infarction.
- Late Side effect of an acute Viral Myocarditis which is initiated by immunological action, i.e a result of the defensive mechanism launched by the immune system against a pathogen, a virus for instance in this case.
There is also instances of a reversible form of Dilated Cardiomyopathy seen in cases involving alcohol abuse, pregnancy, thyroid disease, stimulant use and chronic uncontrolled tachycardia or an abnormal elevation in the pulse rate. Most Cases of Dilated Cardiomyopathy are described as idiopathic i.e an unknown cause.
Dilated Cardiomyopathy occurs more frequently in men than in women And is found to be more common in the age between 20 and 60 years. It also occurs in children, hence no specific age can be pointed out.
Patients suffering from Dilated Cardiomyopathy usually show symptoms of Congestive Heart Failure. A really marked symptom is decreased exercise tolerance and shortness of breath etc. Only a minority are said to experience varied symptoms. Consulting a doctor is always recommended in order to assess the risk of various complications.
Mild chest pain may be present in most cases, but severe chest pain is uncommon and highly suggestive of Ischemic Heart diseases. The patient may faint due to an irregular rise or fall in the heart rate. Systemic Embolism may also occur.