You could have cardiomyopathy and not know it. Many people develop the condition and do not show any signs. However, if you don't take steps to prevent and treat it, you could end up with severe problems. Here is more to know about cardiomyopathy, its risk factors, and how to manage the condition if you have it.
What is cardiomyopathy?
Cardiomyopathy is a condition that affects the heart muscle. It can make the heart less efficient at pumping blood throughout the body. Cardiomyopathy comes in several different forms, such as the four listed below.
With this condition, the left side of the heart becomes enlarged. The heart cannot pump blood out efficiently.
With hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, the heart muscle thickens. The heart becomes weak and is unable to pump out adequately.
Arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia
This condition is very rare and affects the lower right ventricle. It happens when scar tissue develops and causes arrhythmia.
With restrictive cardiomyopathy, the heart muscle becomes stiff and less flexible. As a result, pumping is weaker and less effective.
Who is at risk for cardiomyopathy?
Anyone at any age can develop cardiomyopathy. However, some types affect certain people and certain ages more than others. For example, older people tend to get restrictive and dilated cardiomyopathy. People who are obese or have high blood pressure may also be at higher risk.
Younger people are more at risk for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. If you have a family history, you may be more likely to get arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia or hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Some viruses, like COVID-19, can also cause cardiomyopathy in all age groups.
What are the symptoms of cardiomyopathy?
Since cardiomyopathy affects the heart, you will notice problems when you are active or under stress. You may have signs of cardiomyopathy if you have:
- Unusual shortness of breath
- Trouble sleeping while lying down
- Frequent or constant swelling in the ankles and legs
- A feeling of an irregular heartbeat
- Feelings of tiredness more than usual
How can one prevent or manage cardiomyopathy?
While you cannot prevent genetic predispositions, you may be able to reduce your chance of cardiomyopathy by:
- Stopping smoking
- Exercising regularly
- Controlling your high blood pressure, diabetes, or cholesterol issues
- Getting enough rest
- Eating a heart-healthy diet
Since cardiomyopathy can become serious if not addressed, check in with your general practitioner if you show symptoms. If your regular GP is unavailable, a medical centre can help diagnose and manage your condition. You can get help after hours, and their doctors can help with most medical conditions. For life-threatening emergencies, call 000 for immediate help.