Cardiomyopathy - Treatment
Cardiomyopathy is a term for several disorders affecting the heart muscle or myocardium. The underlying cause of cardiomyopathy is pathological thickening or stretching of the myocardium, possibly changes in its composition that are more visible under microscope. Medically we are speaking of hypertrophic or dilated cardiomyopathy. Given that the affected organ has a crucial role in the body, symptoms of cardiomyopathy and the way it can harm a patient are also very complicated. The diagnosis and treatment are very difficult and complex tasks for a doctor.
The Causes and Manifestations of Cardiomyopathy
The cause of cardiomyopathy is very difficult to determine during diagnosis. There are a number of diseases and conditions that can lead to the development of cardiomyopathy, such as myocarditis, hereditary predisposition to alcoholism, and more. Cardiomyopathy is manifested by shortness of breath, chest pain, fatigue and decreased performance; however sometimes no symptoms are present.
Treatment of Cardiomyopathy
Treatment of cardiomyopathy is very difficult and complicated. The first steps in treating cardiomyopathy focus on reducing risk factors such as decreasing alcohol consumption, treating thyroid disorders or lowering high blood pressure. This is achieved with the administration of appropriate medication. Because cardiomyopathy is usually accompanied by arrhythmia, heart rhythm disorders, it is necessary to treat this condition with the help of medications called antiarrhythmics. The treatment slightly varies depending on the type of cardiomyopathy.
Treatment of Dilated Cardiomyopathy
Dilated cardiomyopathy is a condition where the walls of the heart's chambers expand, primarily the left ventricle. Treatment is based on medication to support the cardiac muscle, as well as resynchronization therapy; where both ventricles are stimulated to contract at once. Patients with dilated cardiomyopathy are in danger of sudden death due to heart failure, therefore a cardioverter-defibrillator is often implanted as part of treatment, a device which stimulates the heart to beat. In some cases, the patient may be a candidate for a heart transplant.
Treatment of Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is a heart disorder where the left ventricle, as well as other sections of the heart, is thickened. Due to this thickening, the ventricle fills up slower, increasing the pressure inside, which is carried to the lungs. This is usually a genetic disorder. Treatment of this type of cardiomyopathy is pharmacological and is aimed at dampening excess muscle contractions of the ventricle. Sometimes an active heart catherization is effective. This is when a special tube is introduced into the ventricle, the end of which contains a device allowing modification of the myocardium. Surgery performed for diagnosis of this disorder is called a percutaneous transluminal septal myocardial ablation; the deliberate closing of the coronary artery supplying a specific portion of the heart, causing a small heart attack in this area. This leaves the affected wall thin after healing. Other options include a myectomy, surgery to remove part of the muscle tissue, thereby thinning the thickened wall. Last but not least there is also the option of implanting a pacemaker into the patient's chest. In certain cases, the individual could benefit from a heart transplant. Of course the medications a patient is taking for any other illnesses and which could worsen his or her cardiomyopathy, even have fatal consequences, need to be assessed.
Prognosis of Cardiomyopathy
Cardiomyopathy does not have a good prognosis as it is a form of heart failure. Though the last few years have brought significant advances in the treatment of cardiomyopathy, it is still a condition that can be treated but rarely cured. Because a number of types of cardiomyopathy exist, prognosis varies. In the most common type, dilated cardiomyopathy, up to 20% of patients die annually, and with another type, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, the rate is around 1%. It is important to add that thanks to better quality diagnosis, treatment methods continue to slowly improve.