Cardiomyopathy covers disorders that affect the heart muscle, and it affects one in five hundred adults in the United States. This condition can affect both males and females of any age group.
Because the condition can be tied to other diseases and can often be idiopathic, it’s important to recognize the signs, symptoms, and ways to diagnose it. Cardiomyopathy weakens the heart as it progresses, which is why it’s important not to sweep it under the rug. You should undergo tests and assessments with a reliable doctor to see if you have the condition.
What Is Cardiomyopathy?
There are different types of cardiomyopathy. In general, it affects the heart’s ability to pump blood properly. Over time, this makes the heart incapable of maintaining its normal electrical rhythm. This can also cause you to develop arrhythmias and put you at risk of heart failure.
The heart muscles try to overcompensate because of the condition, and the muscles start to get thicker and more rigid. If it becomes too enlarged, the heart muscle tissue may be replaced with scar tissue.
The most common manifestations of cardiomyopathy are dilated, hypertrophic, restrictive, arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia, and transthyretin amyloid cardiomyopathy (ATTR-CM).
Symptoms of Cardiomyopathy
Cardiomyopathy can develop through various means. It can be a hereditary condition, acquired from the onset of a different disease, stress-induced, or even neither because it can develop with seemingly no trigger.
It can be difficult to find the cause of cardiomyopathy, though it is easier for adult cases compared to those of minors. The trouble with the condition is that it can be present in the body without showing any signs or symptoms. For those that do have symptoms, these show up as the following:
- Arrhythmia or irregular heartbeats
- Frequent bouts of fainting, especially during physical activity
- Swelling of the ankles, feet, legs, abdomen, and veins in the back
- Chest pain during meals or after exertion
- Heart murmurs
What individuals need to be careful of is the presence of more severe symptoms that may be indicative of heart failure. There are four stages of heart failure, and your treatment will depend on where you are.
How to Diagnose Cardiomyopathy
Diagnosis depends on your medical history, hereditary factors, and a full assessment. Your primary care doctor should conduct diagnostic tests and give you a cohesive physical exam.
The initial assessment will have you answering questions on your own condition, physical wellbeing, and any family history. The diagnostic tests will be more comprehensive—blood tests, chest x-ray, electrocardiogram, and an echocardiogram. Depending on the results, your doctor may also ask you to perform a stress test and make use of a Holter monitor to watch your heart’s electrical activity for around 48 hours.
If you think you might be suffering from cardiomyopathy, you should contact your primary care doctor and get a check-up. This will give you ample time to get the right diagnosis and undertake the proper treatment. It’s important to act efficiently so you can prevent complications.
For top-of-the-line primary care in New Jersey, contact the Garden State Medical Group. Our board-certified physicians have expertise in multiple disciplines and focus on both prevention and treatment.