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Heart Muscle Disease

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Posted by on Monday, September 13, 2010, 23:34
This news item was posted in A to Z Diseases, H, Heart category and has 3 Comments so far.

What is it?

Heart Muscle Disease
Heart Muscle Disease

Cardiomyopathy is a disease of the heart muscle. The walls of the heart become rigid, and the heart loses its ability to pump blood. In some instances, heart rhythm is disturbed, leading to irregular heartbeats, or arrhythmias.
Who gets it?

Cardiomyopathy affects about 50,000 children and adult in America. While relatively rare, cardiomyopothy is the leading reason for heart transplantation.
What causes it?

The cause of cardiomyopathy is often unknown. The rigidity of the heart walls may be caused by fibrosis, the replacement of muscle cells with tough, fibrous tissue. In some disorders, proteins and other substances are deposited in the heart wall. Cardiomyopathy occasionally occurs as a complication of pregnancy and childbirth. Other factors include various infections, mostly viral, which lead to an inflammation of the heart muscle (myocarditis), toxins and heredity. Additionally, some drugs used to treat another medical condition can damage the heart and produce cardiomyopathy.
What are the symptoms?

Heart Muscle Disease
Heart Muscle Disease

Children diagnosed with cardiomyopathy fail to thrive, feel tired and weak and have shortness of breath during times of activity. If blood is backing up in the circulation they may also experience edema (large amounts of fluid in tissues) of the legs and feet.
How is it diagnosed?

As the heart deteriorates further and the pulse becomes weaker, a doctor may perform a cardiac examination to reveal an irregular heartbeat. The doctor may also perform an echocardiography, which is a test that uses sound waves to make images of the heart. These images provide information about the structures of the heart and its heart valves. Echocardiography can also be used to find out how much blood the heart is pumping. Computed tomography scan (CT scan) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are imaging tests that can also provide information about the structure of the heart. Cardiac catheterization may also be needed to confirm a diagnosis or cause.
What is the treatment?

Heart Muscle Disease
Heart Muscle Disease

Treatment of a patient with cardiomyopathy may reduce or stop the damage to the heart, but existing damage cannot be reversed. A doctor may prescribe medications such as diuretics, vasodilators, digitalis, and calcium or beta-blockers to lessen the workload on the heart and to control the heart rhythm. A heart transplant may be necessary for patients who develop severe heart failure.
Self-care tips

Early diagnosis and treatment for cardiomyopathy is necessary to prevent or slow the development of the disease. If a child is experiencing symptoms of shortness of breath, tiredness and weakness, he or she should be taken to a pediatrician for a complete examination.

This information has been designed as a comprehensive and quick reference guide written by our health care reviewers.  The health information written by our authors is intended to be a supplement to the care provided by your physician.  It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice.

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