In restrictive cardiomyopathy (RCM), the muscles of your heart’s lower chambers (ventricles) stiffen and can’t fill with blood. This can cause heart failure, which increases pressure on your heart and may cause fluid buildup in your lungs. Symptoms of RCM vary depending on severity. Healthcare providers treat heart failure symptoms with medication.
Restrictive cardiomyopathy (RCM) is a heart condition. Muscle tissue in your heart’s lower chambers (ventricles) becomes stiff, and the ventricles can’t fill with blood. This leads to reduced blood flow in your heart.
Other common names for restrictive cardiomyopathy are:
Restrictive cardiomyopathy can affect anyone. But the underlying conditions that cause restrictive cardiomyopathy are more common in some people than others. For example, sarcoidosis, which causes restrictive cardiomyopathy, is most prevalent in Black people assigned female at birth.
Cardiomyopathy is a common heart muscle disease. Up to 1 in 500 people may have it. But restrictive cardiomyopathy is the rarest type of cardiomyopathy — about 5% of all cardiomyopathies are restrictive cardiomyopathy.
Restrictive cardiomyopathy causes the ventricles to become rigid and unable to fill with blood completely. This condition affects how blood flows through your heart.
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You may not have any symptoms of restrictive cardiomyopathy. But as the condition worsens, you might develop heart failure symptoms. These may include:
You may develop restrictive cardiomyopathy if you have:
You’re also more likely to develop restrictive cardiomyopathy after certain cancer treatments, including:
Your healthcare provider will order an echocardiogram to determine if your heart’s ventricles are functioning as they should. Your provider may recommend tests to see if you have an underlying condition that can cause restrictive cardiomyopathy. You may also have:
There's no specific treatment for restrictive cardiomyopathy. Your healthcare provider will treat the underlying cause of your condition. If you have heart failure symptoms, your provider may treat you with:
Restrictive cardiomyopathy can cause several complications:
Restrictive cardiomyopathy makes your heart work harder to pump blood. Talk to your healthcare provider about steps you can take to reduce your heart’s workload.
While you can’t prevent the underlying conditions that cause restrictive cardiomyopathy, you can help keep your heart healthy by:
Restrictive cardiomyopathy is a complex condition. Talk with your healthcare provider about steps you can take to keep your heart healthy.
The survival rate for people with restrictive cardiomyopathy varies. Your healthcare provider can help you and your family know what to expect as the condition progresses.
Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions and take all prescribed medications. Your healthcare provider may recommend lifestyle changes such as:
If heart failure symptoms develop or worsen, call your healthcare provider. Call 911 if you have:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Restrictive cardiomyopathy occurs when muscles in your heart’s ventricles become rigid. The ventricles can’t fill with blood. Your heart must work too hard to pump blood, causing heart failure. Healthcare providers typically treat the symptoms of restrictive cardiomyopathy with medication.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 07/20/2022.
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