Cardiomyopathy refers to diseases relating to the heart muscle where the heart enlarges, thickens or becomes rigid due to damage or abnormalities of the heart muscle. This results in a condition called heart failure.
There are various types of Cardiomyopathy such as:
Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM)
DCM is the most common form of Cardiomyopathy. It occurs when the heart muscle starts stretching (dilates), and becoming thinner. As the chambers of the heart dilate, the heart muscles are unable to contract normally and cannot pump blood very well.
Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM)
HCM is another common form of Cardiomyopathy. It occurs when the heart muscle cells enlarge, causing the walls of the heart chambers to thicken. Even though the sizes of the heart chambers appear normal, the heart muscles are unable to pump blood effectively. Sometimes, the walls thicken to an extent that it may block the flow of blood through the chambers of the heart. When this happens, the condition is called Obstructive Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy.
Infiltrative Heart Disease
Infiltrative heart disease refers to a diverse group of disease that causes deposition of abnormal substances within the heart tissue, such as amyloid. Due to these depositions, the heart muscles fail to contract efficiently. The cause of infiltrative heart diseases can either be inherited or acquired through various other diseases that affect different parts of the body, such as connective tissue disease.
This is a relatively rare form of Cardiomyopathy. It occurs when the heart muscles become stiff, losing their normal elastic behaviour. When the heart is meant to relax to allow blood to fill its chambers, it is unable to do so.
This form of Cardiomyopathy occurs in patients who have had exposure to radiation treatment in the chest area. An example would be patients who have undergone radiation therapy for breast cancer. The radiation received has been associated with scarring of the heart muscle, which then leads to the thickening and inefficiency of the heart. The electrical conduction of the heart can be affected too, worsening the Cardiomyopathy.
Some of these Cardiomyopathic conditions are inherently familial (genetically transmitted). What this means is that certain members of the same family may acquire these forms of Cardiomyopathies without experiencing any symptoms.