Cardiomyopathy is a type of heart disease in which your heart muscle becomes enlarged, thick or stiff. Sometimes it's cause is genetic and other times it is caused by risk factors such as obesity, alcohol use or diabetes. 

There are several different types of cardiomyopathy:

Ischemic cardiomyopathy, the most common category, occurs when the heart muscle is damaged from a heart attack or coronary artery disease

Non-ischemic cardiomyopathy is not related to coronary artery disease or a heart attack. There are four types of non-ischemic cardiomyopathy:

  • Arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia (ARVD): A rare type of cardiomyopathy in which the muscle tissue in the right lower heart chamber dies and is replaced with scar tissue. This can cause arrhythmias. It usually affects teens or young adults and may cause sudden cardiac arrest in young athletes. Researchers think this type of cardiomyopathy is an inherited disease.

As the condition progresses, your heart becomes weaker. This makes it difficult for your heart to pump blood effectively or maintain its normal rhythm. Eventually, cardiomyopathy can lead to other conditions such as heart failure, arrhythmias, heart valve disease or sudden cardiac arrest. That’s why it’s important to see your doctor if you have symptoms.


Symptoms of cardiomyopathy may include:

  • Shortness of breath or trouble breathing, especially when lying down, after eating or with physical exertion
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Swelling in your ankles, feet, legs and abdomen
  • Bulging neck veins
  • Congested cough
  • Chest pain
  • Irregular heartbeats or heart murmurs
  • Dizziness, light-headedness or fainting


To diagnose your condition, your doctor will ask about your medical history and conduct a physical exam. He or she may also perform the following tests:

Services & Treatment

Depending on its cause, your cardiomyopathy can be treated in various ways. If the cardiomyopathy is caused by blockages in the coronary arteries, your doctor may treat it with:

Your doctor may also recommend you make lifestyle changes, such as avoiding intense exercise, losing weight and limiting caffeine and alcohol, fat and salt.

Your doctor may also prescribe medications to help control your symptoms. These medications may include beta blockers or diuretics.

If lifestyle changes and medications don’t produce the desired results, your doctor may recommend surgery for:

Why Aurora?

You're at the Heart of Our Care 

Aurora Health Care offers coordinated care for preventing, diagnosing and treating heart and vascular disease. World-renowned heart and vascular specialists diagnose and treat all types of cardiovascular conditions and disorders, using the most advanced state-of-the-art tools and technologies available today. 

The Tendick Center for Surgical Treatment of Heart Failure and the Transplant Center provide specialized heart care. Contact them to learn more about how they can help you or a loved one.

What’s all this mean to you? Convenient, coordinated and expert care.  

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