Cardiomyopathy and Congestive Heart Failure
In congestive cardiomyopathy, also called dilated cardiomyopathy, the heart becomes stretched and weakened and is unable to pump effectively.
Heart failure occurs when the heart does not pump strongly enough to meet the needs of the body. If the heart doesn't pump with the force needed, the body's tissues do not get enough oxygen.
Heart failure develops gradually as the heart muscle weakens. If the right side of the heart is affected, the heart is unable to pump adequate blood to the lungs to be oxygenated. If the left side of the heart is affected, it is unable to pump enough blood to the rest of the body. In most cases, heart failure affects both left and right side, but it can occur on just one side.
About 5.8 million people in the United States suffer from heart failure and nearly 700,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. Heart failure usually develops slowly over time, and some loss in pumping capacity is natural as people age. With end-stage heart failure, however, that loss becomes life-threatening and is no longer manageable through medical therapies.
Heart failure and cardiomyopathy
One of the many causes of heart failure is cardiomyopathy. There are two major types of cardiomyopathy: primary cardiomyopathy, defined as changes in the structure or function of the heart muscle that cannot be attributed to a specific cause, and secondary, which is associated with disorders of the heart or other organs. Congestive cardiomyopathy is the most common primary form of heart muscle disease. Other types include hypertrophic and restrictive cardiomyopathy. Heart muscle disease related to coronary artery disease is called ischemic cardiomyopathy.
The exact frequency of cardiomyopathy is difficult to determine as many cases are not severe, but about 500,000 new cases develop each year in the United States. Instead of afflicting the elderly like most other heart diseases, heart muscle disease more commonly strikes younger people. This group of disorders directly damages the muscle, impairing its ability to pump blood to other parts of the body.
Treatment usually includes lifestyle changes, medications, and continual care. If symptoms progressively worsen and can not be controlled through these measures, surgical procedures may be necessary.