Symptoms and Signs of Cardiomyopathy

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019

Doctor's Notes on Cardiomyopathy

Cardiomyopathy is when the heart muscle cannot contract or function normally that causes the heart to be weak and not able to pump blood adequately to the body. Signs and symptoms of cardiomyopathy may start with weakness and fatigue and exercise intolerance; shortness of breath and/or chest pain usually occur as the heart muscle function decreases. Swelling of the feet, ankles and legs frequently occurs. Some individuals may have electrical disturbances with cardiomyopathy; symptoms can be the same as above but can include palpitations, feelings of the heart skipping a beat or potentially fatal heart rhythms like ventricular fibrillation may happen.

Unfortunately, there are many causes of cardiomyopathy (at least 30, and many are due to other medical problems). However, any condition or disease that affects heart muscle so that it cannot supply the needed blood for the body’s demand can cause cardiomyopathy. A few examples that are common include genetic diseases, infections, toxins like alcohol abuse or lead, diabetes, hypertension, hypertrophy (thickened ventricle), neuromuscular disorders and many others.

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.