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Welcome to our health education library. The information shared below is provided to you as an educational and informational source only and is not intended to replace a medical examination or consultation, or medical advice given to you by a physician or medical professional.

What Is Dilated Cardiomyopathy?¿Qu© es la miocardiopat­a dilatada?

What Is Dilated Cardiomyopathy?

If you have cardiomyopathy, you have a problem with the muscle tissue that makes up your heart. Dilated cardiomyopathy is the most common type of cardiomyopathy. It happens when the heart thins and enlarges. As a result, your heart may not be pumping as well as it should. You and your doctor can work together to help your heart.

Woman clutching chest

Symptoms of Dilated Cardiomyopathy

Common symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath, especially when you exert yourself.

  • Unexplained tiredness.

  • Chest pain.

  • Fluid buildup in the lungs. You may need extra pillows to help you breathe when you lie down.

  • Fluid retention resulting in swollen feet or ankles or unexplained weight gain.

  • Heart skipping beats, fluttering, or thumping.

  • Fainting, dizziness, or lightheadedness.

Cutaway view of heart

When You Have Dilated Cardiomyopathy

With dilated cardiomyopathy, the heart muscle has been damaged. A damaged heart muscle cannot move as much blood as before. To try to pump enough blood, the heart muscle stretches so it can hold more. The chambers, especially on the left side of the heart, often dilate (get larger). Larger chambers may help move more blood for a while. But, in time, the stretched-out muscle gets even weaker and tires out.

Treatment for Dilated Cardiomyopathy

Dilated cardiomyopathy doesn't go away. But it can be treated. Treatment can help keep cardiomyopathy from getting worse, and can reduce your symptoms. Treatment can also help prevent heart failure. (Heart failure happens when the heart muscle weakens so much that it can't move enough blood. Fluid then builds up in the lungs and the rest of the body.) Your doctor will work with you to develop a treatment plan to help you feel better now and prevent problems in the future.

Following Your Treatment Plan

Your treatment plan may include:

  • Making lifestyle changes such as balancing activity and rest, quitting smoking, and tracking your weight.

  • Eating less salt, if so instructed. Follow your healthcare provider's advice.

  • Taking medications and having medical treatments.

Be sure to see your doctor regularly. Mention any problems you are having with your treatment plan. Be honest if you are not doing something your doctor has suggested. He or she may be able to make some changes to help your plan work better for you.

 

Publication Source: American Heart Association

Publication Source: Cardiomyopathy Association

Online Source: American Heart Association

Online Source: Cardiomyopathy Association

Date Last Reviewed: 2007-09-15T00:00:00-06:00

Date Last Modified: 2005-10-04T00:00:00-06:00

Jay L. Jordan, MD, is an experienced cardiologist and internal medicine physician who provides a comprehensive range of cardiac care services in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Glendale, Burbank, Calabasas and nearby communities. Take the first step in preventing and controlling heart disease with symptoms such as angina, arrhythmias, atrial fibrillation, cardiomyopathy, carotid artery disease, chest pain, congestive heart failure, coronary vascular disease, hypertension, palpitations, shortness of breath and stroke. Call Dr. Jay L. Jordan at 310-854-5493 or request an appointment online.

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