Dilated cardiomyopathy is a condition in which the heart becomes weakened and enlarged. As a result, the heart cannot pump enough blood to the rest of the body.
There are many types of cardiomyopathy. Dilated cardiomyopathy is the most common form.
Some experts use the term "dilated cardiomyopathy" for cases where the primary problem is with the muscle itself. This definition does not include weakness or enlargement that was caused by a heart attack or a heart valve problem.
Cardiomyopathy - dilated
The most common causes of dilated cardiomyopathy are:
Heart disease caused by a narrowing of the arteries
Poorly controlled high blood pressure
There are many other causes of dilated cardiomyopathy, including:
Alcohol or cocaine abuse
Medicines that can be toxic to the heart, such as drugs used to treat cancer
Abnormal heart rhythms in which the heart beats very fast for a long period of time
Chronic heart failure becomes worse over time. Many people who have heart failure will die from the condition. Thinking about the type of care you may want at the end of life and discussing these issues with loved ones and your health care provider is important.
Heart failure is most often a chronic illness, which may get worse over time. Some people develop severe heart failure, in which medicines, other treatments, and surgery no longer help. Many people are at risk for deadly heart rhythms, and may need medicines or a defibrillator.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your health care provider if you have symptoms of cardiomyopathy.
Get emergency medical help right away if you have chest pain, palpitations or fainting.
Hare JM. The dilated, restrictive, and infiltrative cardiomyopathies. In: Bonow RO, Mann DL, Zipes DP, Libby P, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 68.
Michael A. Chen, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, Harborview Medical Center, University of Washington Medical School, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.