INTRODUCTION ON HOW TO SAVE A
MILLION DOLLARS In the treatment of Cardiomyopathy
Cardiomyopathy is a disease of the heart muscle. The heart loses its ability
to pump blood and, in some instances, heart rhythm is disturbed, leading to
irregular heartbeats, or . Usually, the exact cause of the muscle damage is
Cardiomyopathy differs from many other heart disorders in a couple of ways.
First, the types not related to coronary atherosclerosis are fairly uncommon.
Cardiomyopathy affects about 50,000 Americans. However, the condition is a
leading reason for heart transplantation.
Second, unlike many other forms of heart disease that affect middle-aged and
older persons, certain types of cardiomopathies can, and often do, occur in the
young. The condition tends to be progressive and sometimes worsens fairly
quickly. Majority of the time the cause is autoimmune.
As noted, there are various types of cardiomyopathy. These fall into two
major categories: "ischemic" and "nonischemic" cardiomyopathy.
- Ischemic cardiomyopathy typically refers to heart muscle damage that
results from coronary artery disease, such as heart attack, and will not be
discussed here (see page 8 on how to get information on the disorder).
- Nonischemic cardiomyopathy includes several types. The three main types
are covered in this fact sheet. They are: dilated, hypertrophic, and
restrictive. The name of each describes the nature of its muscle damage.
Dilated (Congestive) Cardiomyopathy
By far the most common type of nonischemic cardiomyopathy, the dilated
(stretched) form occurs when disease-affected muscle fibers lead to enlargement,
or dilation, of one or more chambers of the heart. This weakens the heart's
pumping ability. The heart tries to cope with the pumping limitation by further
enlarging and stretching--a process known as "compensation."
Dilated cardiomyopathy occurs most often in middle-aged people and more often
in men than women. However, the disease has been diagnosed in people of all
ages, including children.
In most cases, the disease is bb--a specific cause for the damage is never
But some factors have been linked to the disease's occurrence. For instance,
alcohol has a direct suppressant effect on the heart. Dilated cardiomyopathy can
be caused by chronic, excessive consumption of alcohol, particularly in
combination with dietary deficiencies. Also, dilated cardiomyopathy occasionally
occurs as a complication of pregnancy and childbirth. Other factors are: various
infections, mostly viral, which lead to an inflammation of the heart muscle (myocarditis);
toxins (such as cobalt, once used in beers, for instance); and, rarely,
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