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Treating Cardiomyopathy


Diseases of the heart muscle are generally referred to as cardiomyopathy. With cardiomyopathy, the heart has a hard time pumping blood. The three main types of cardiomyopathy are:

  • Dilated cardiomyopathy: The lower heart chambers (ventricles) dilate or enlarge, and become weak. This is the most common type of cardiomyopathy. 
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy: The size of the chambers remain normal, but the walls of the heart thicken.
  • Restrictive cardiomyopathy: The ventricles stiffen and get rigid.

Dignity Health offers excellence in care for all types of cardiomyopathy in the Bay Area. If you would like to learn more about treatment options, Find a Doctor online at Dignity Health.

Cardiomyopathy Symptoms

Some people never notice any symptoms of cardiomyopathy, especially in its earliest stages. However, as the disease progresses, most people start to experience some symptoms of heart failure. 

Symptoms of cardiomyopathy include:

  • Abnormal heartbeats that feel like a fluttering in the chest 
  • Coughing when you lie down
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Lightheadedness
  • Shortness of breath 
  • Swelling in the legs, ankles, feet, belly, and veins in the neck

Call 9-1-1 for emergency medical assistance if you experience severe chest pain, fainting, or difficulty breathing.

Causes of Cardiomyopathy

The cause of cardiomyopathy varies by the type. 

The cause of dilated cardiomyopathy is often unknown. About one-third of people inherit it from a parent. Conditions and lifestyle factors that can cause it include:

Most people inherit hypertrophic cardiomyopathy from a parent. However, like dilated cardiomyopathy, sometimes the cause isn’t known and other conditions and lifestyle factors can cause it.

The cause of restrictive cardiomyopathy is another disease, condition, or medical treatment including:

  • Amyloidosis
  • Certain cancer treatments
  • Connective tissue disorders
  • Hemochromatosis
  • Sarcoidosis

Diagnosing Cardiomyopathy

It is important for your doctor to determine whether your cardiomyopathy is a component of a larger (systemic) medical problem or if it is restricted to your heart. In order to accurately diagnose cardiomyopathy, your doctor will review your medical and health history and risk factors, and perform a physical exam. In addition, you will need  one or more of the following tests: 

Treating Cardiomyopathy at Dignity Health

Your doctors at Dignity Health are dedicated to serving every patient with respect and humankindness, treating the whole person and not just the condition. Your treatment will depend on the type and severity of the cardiomyopathy. Some people without symptoms do not need treatment. When it’s necessary, your treatment plan may involve lifestyle changes, medications, medical procedures, or surgery.

Treatment goals include:

  • Helping you live as normally as possible
  • Managing underlying conditions
  • Preventing complications
  • Relieving symptoms
  • Slowing the progression of cardiomyopathy

You can trust the cardiac care team at Dignity Health to deliver excellence in treatment and care.

Dignity Health offers advanced diagnostic testing and expert treatment of cardiomyopathy in San Francisco, Santa Cruz, and Redwood City.