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Dilated cardiomyopathy

  • Alternative Names

    Cardiomyopathy - dilated


    When the cause of the dilated cardiomyopathy can be found, that condition is treated. For example, high blood pressure or coronary artery disease should be treated. If alcohol or cocaine use is the cause, your doctor will ask you to stop using them. Sometimes, no specific cause can be found, but the treatments listed below will still be used.

    Attempts are also made to find a "trigger" that may have caused a sudden worsening in a patient's symptoms. Examples include not taking medication correctly, increasing salt or fluid intake, or drinking excess alcohol.

    Treatment for cardiomyopathies focuses on treating heart failure. Drugs and treatments that may be used include:

    • ACE inhibitors, such as captopril, enalapril, lisinopril, and ramipril
    • Angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) such as losartan and candesartan
    • Beta-blockers, such as carvedilol and metoprolol
    • Diuretics, including thiazide, loop diuretics, and potassium-sparing diuretics
    • Digitalis glycosides
    • Drugs that dilate blood vessels (vasodilators)

    See also: Heart failure

    Some people may benefit from the following heart devices:

    • Single or dual-chamber pacemaker
    • Biventricular pacemaker
    • Implantable cardioverter-defibrillator
    • Left ventricular assist device (LVAD)

    A low-salt diet may be prescribed for adults, and fluid may be restricted in some cases. You can usually continue your regular activities, if you are able.

    You may be asked to monitor your body weight daily. Weight gain of 3 pounds or more over 1 or 2 days may indicate fluid buildup (in adults).

    Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol, which may make the symptoms worse.

    If the heart function remains poor, a heart transplant may be considered.

    Support Groups

    Expectations (prognosis)

    The outcome varies. Some people remain in a stable condition for long periods of time, some continue to gradually get sicker, and others quickly get worse. Cardiomyopathy can only be corrected if the disease that caused it can be cured.

    About one-third of children recover completely, one-third recover but continue to have some heart problems, and one-third die.

    • Arrhythmias
    • Congestive heart failure
    • Pulmonary edema
    • Side effects of medications, including:
      • Headache
      • Gastrointestinal upset
      • Light-headedness and fainting
      • Low blood pressure
      • Lupus reaction (a group of symptoms including a skin rash and arthritis)

    Calling your health care provider

    Call your health care provider if you have symptoms of cardiomyopathy.

    If chest pain, palpitations, or faintness develop seek emergency medical treatment immediately.