Dilated cardiomyopathy causes unusual tissue thinning and expansion in your heart’s main pumping chamber. It may be due to genetics or heart attack damage, but the cause is often unknown. In advanced stages, this condition can lead to complications that include heart failure or other cardiovascular issues.
Dilated cardiomyopathy occurs when your heart’s main pumping chamber (left ventricle) becomes enlarged. In severe cases, it affects additional areas of your heart.
When your left ventricle becomes enlarged, tissue thins, causing it to pump with less force. After each beat, more blood remains in your heart. This makes it increasingly difficult to keep up with your body’s needs. In advanced stages, dilated cardiomyopathy can lead to heart failure and other complications.
Additional complications may include:
In many cases, the cause is unknown. Sometimes, the condition runs in families (familial dilated cardiomyopathy).
When healthcare providers can pinpoint a cause, it may be:
Many people with dilated cardiomyopathy have no symptoms, especially in the early stages. As heart function worsens, symptoms become more noticeable. The first symptom is often a heart murmur.
Additional dilated cardiomyopathy symptoms may include:
Your healthcare provider begins by taking your medical history and performing a physical exam. This may include listening to your lungs to check for fluid build-up.
Testing determines the severity and assists healthcare providers with dilated cardiomyopathy treatment planning. You may need:
A variety of dilated cardiomyopathy treatments may be necessary. Your care may start with medications that improve heart function. These include:
Lifestyle changes can help improve the effectiveness of medications and possibly help you delay or avoid a procedure.
These changes include:
If you have advanced dilated cardiomyopathy, your heart function may be severely compromised. A procedure may be necessary to improve it. These include:
These devices can help your heart pump harder or more regularly. Options include:
Additional procedures include:
It’s not always possible to prevent this condition, especially if it runs in your family or is a side effect of lifesaving care, like chemotherapy.
However, certain causes are manageable. You may be able to prevent dilated cardiomyopathy by:
Your prognosis depends on the cause and severity of the disease. Many people return to work and daily activities after treatment. Advanced dilated cardiomyopathy or complications can make you severely ill. You may need to stay in the hospital until symptoms improve.
Dilated cardiomyopathy has no cure. But you can optimize your well-being by following care instructions. These include:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Dilated cardiomyopathy causes your heart’s main pumping chamber to expand. This decreases its ability to pump blood out to your body, putting you at risk for heart failure. The condition affects each person differently. Many people resume full, active lives with successful treatment and ongoing care.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 07/04/2022.
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