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A to Z: Cardiomyopathy

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Cardiomyopathy (kar-dee-oh-my-OP-uh-thee) is a disease of the heart muscle. The muscle gets weak and larger than usual, making it hard to pump blood through the body. There are a few types of cardiomyopathy.

More to Know

People in all age groups can have cardiomyopathy. It can run in families or develop from causes such as infections, coronary artery disease, or a shortage of healthy nutrients in the body. Drug and alcohol abuse and exposure to other harmful substances can also cause cardiomyopathy. Sometimes the cause isn’t known.

Symptoms of cardiomyopathy can include shortness of breath; tiredness; swelling in the legs, ankles, and feet; bloating; dizziness; and fainting. Someone with cardiomyopathy may not notice the signs early on, but as the illness continues, so do the symptoms.

Cardiomyopathy is a serious condition. If it’s not treated, it can lead to serious arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat), heart valve problems, blood clots, and even heart failure (when the heart is too weak to pump enough blood to the body).

Keep in Mind

There is no cure for cardiomyopathy, but doctors can treat it. Lifestyle changes, medicines, and devices put in the heart during surgery can help manage symptoms and stop the disease from getting worse. Someone with severe cardiomyopathy might need a heart transplant.

All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.