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Complete & Leading Care for Cardiomyopathy at Dignity Health

Cardiomyopathy is a general term for heart muscle disease. The three main types of cardiomyopathy are:

  • Restrictive cardiomyopathy: The ventricles (lower heart chambers) become stiff and rigid.
  • Dilated cardiomyopathy: This is the most common type of cardiomyopathy. The ventricles widen (dilate) and weaken, so the heart muscle is not able pump blood effectively.
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy: The walls of the heart thicken, but the ventricle size often remains normal.

If you have been diagnosed with cardiomyopathy in the Sacramento, CA region, the expert cardiology specialists at Dignity Health Heart and Vascular Institute of Greater Sacramento can provide comprehensive care for your heart disease. Find a Cardiology Specialist near you to learn more about your treatment options.


What Causes Cardiomyopathy?

The cause of cardiomyopathy varies by the type:

  • Restrictive: The cause of restrictive cardiomyopathy is another disease or condition, including connective tissue disorders, sarcoidosis, amyloidosis, hemochromatosis, and some cancer treatments.
  • Dilated: The cause is often unknown. About 30 percent of people inherit it from a parent. Conditions that can cause it include heart attack, high blood pressure, diabetes, coronary artery disease, thyroid disease, and infections. Toxins, alcohol, and certain drugs can also cause it.
  • Hypertrophic: Most people inherit this condition from a parent. However, other conditions can also cause it. Sometimes, the cause is unknown.


Common Symptoms of Cardiomyopathy

In the early stages of cardiomyopathy, you may not notice any symptoms. As the disease progresses, you will probably start to experience some symptoms of heart failure. However, some people may never have symptoms. 

The heart has a hard time pumping blood with all types of cardiomyopathy, causing symptoms such as: 

  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Swelling in the legs, ankles, feet, belly, and neck veins

Other symptoms include:

  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Coughing when you lie down
  • Abnormal heartbeats that feel like a fluttering in your chest

Seek immediate medical attention or call 911 if you experience chest pain, severe difficulty breathing or fainting.


Diagnosing & Treating Cardiomyopathy in the Sacramento Area

Your highly trained doctor at Dignity Health can determine if your cardiomyopathy is due to a problem with the heart itself or another disease. Your medical and health history, physical exam, risk factors, and tests help accurately diagnose cardiomyopathy. Tests used to diagnose cardiomyopathy include:

  • Stress testing shows whether your heart can tolerate increased work.
  • Cardiac catheterization uses X-rays to guide a tube called a catheter into your heart and coronary arteries for a close look.
  • EKG (electrocardiogram) is a painless test to show the rate and rhythm of your heartbeat.
  • Blood tests gather information about your heart and rule out other conditions.
  • Chest X-ray checks the size of your heart and for fluid buildup in your lungs.
  • Echocardiogram creates pictures of your moving heart and valves.

Some people without symptoms may not need treatment. When necessary, treatment depends on the type and severity of cardiomyopathy. Your personalized cardiology treatment plan may involve medications, lifestyle changes, and, in some cases, medical procedures or surgery.

Dignity Health Heart and Vascular Institute of Greater Sacramento offers treatment for cardiovascular conditions like cardiomyopathy throughout the Sacramento region.