Dilated cardiomyopathy is a condition that weakens your heart muscle and causes it to stretch, or dilate. When your heart muscle is weak, it can't pump out blood as well as it should. More blood stays in your heart after each heartbeat. As more blood fills and stays in the heart, the heart muscle stretches even more and gets even weaker.
Many things can cause dilated cardiomyopathy. It can be caused by another disease or condition, such as high blood pressure or a heart attack. Some people have a family history of dilated cardiomyopathy. For some people, the cause is not known.
You may not have any symptoms at first. Or you may have mild symptoms, such as feeling very tired or weak. If your heart gets weaker, you may develop heart failure. Heart failure means that your heart muscle doesn't pump as much blood as your body needs. If this happens, you will feel other symptoms such as shortness of breath or trouble breathing when you lie down.
The goal of treatment is to slow the disease and help you feel better. You may also have treatment for the cause of the cardiomyopathy. You will probably take a few medicines. If your doctor thinks it will help your heart and prevent problems, you may get a device such as a pacemaker. Self-care is another important part of your treatment. It includes the things you can do every day to feel better and stay as healthy as possible.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if you have any problems.
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Current as of: March 23, 2017
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
& Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine
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