How is restrictive cardiomyopathy diagnosed?

The size of the heart may remain normal with restrictive cardiomyopathy. In some cases, restrictive cardiomyopathy may be confused with constrictive pericarditis, a condition in which the layers of the pericardium (the sac that surrounds the heart) become thickened, calcified and stiff. Constrictive pericarditis prevents the heart muscle from expanding during filling and affects the function of the heart. Certain diagnostic tests may be performed by restrictive cardiomyopathy physicians to rule out pericarditis and confirm the diagnosis of restrictive cardiomyopathy.

Restrictive cardiomyopathy is diagnosed based on medical history, physical exam, and diagnostic tests. Diagnostic work-up may include electrocardiogram, chest X-ray, echocardiogram, exercise stress test, cardiac catheterization, CT scan, MRI and radionuclide studies.

A myocardial biopsy occasionally is done to determine the cause of cardiomyopathy. During a myocardial biopsy, a small tissue sample is taken from the heart and examined under a microscope to determine the cause of symptoms.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 02/26/2019.

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