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Cardiomypathy – what does it mean? The prefix “cardio” comes from the Ancient Greek word “kardia,” meaning heart. “Myopathy” is a combination of the Greek “myo” for muscle and “pathos” for suffering, and refers to a muscular disease. Though many people associate muscles only with the limbs,
Introduction
 
Cardiomypathy – what does it mean? The prefix “cardio” comes from the Ancient Greek word “kardia,” meaning heart. “Myopathy” is a combination of the Greek “myo” for muscle and “pathos” for suffering, and refers to a muscular disease. Though many people associate muscles only with the limbs, thinking of biceps and calves, the most important muscle in the body is the heart. Put together, cardiomyopathy is the medical term for an abnormal condition of the heart muscle.
 
Anatomy
 
Your cardiovascular system is composed of the heart and the miles of blood vessels that transport blood throughout the body, and the heart is the core of this system. A large, fist-sized muscle, your heart works as a pump for the blood. As the delivery service of your body, blood carries the nutrients and oxygen required for your cells to function properly while sweeping away waste products.
 
A thick wall, called the septum, divides the heart into four separate sections called chambers. The bottom two chambers, the ventricles, send blood outward to the rest of your body. The top two chambers, the atria, receive incoming blood that’s returned from its journey around your body.
 
The heart functions through a pumping system based on the left and right sides. The left side of the system uses the left atrium and the left ventricle. Your lungs infuse your blood with oxygen whenever you inhale, sending that newly oxygenated blood to the left atrium. That blood then moves to the left ventricle, which pumps the oxygenated blood out to circulate through the rest of your body.
 
In the right half of the pumping system, the right atrium receives returning blood that has completed circulation around your body and is depleted of oxygen. That deoxygenated blood then moves to the right ventricle, which sends blood up to the lungs. When you breathe, your lungs will replenish the blood with a fresh supply of oxygen.
 
To maintain a healthy pumping system, blood needs to be continually moving in one direction. To prevent the blood from flowing backward as it travels through the chambers of the heart, four valves maintain proper blood flow. The mitral and tricuspid valves control blood flow going from the atria to the ventricles, while the aortic and pulmonary valves regulate blood leaving the ventricles.
 
Blood vessels that send oxygenated blood out of your heart are called arteries, while blood vessels that deliver blood back to your heart are called veins. In addition to the main muscular organ of the heart, the heart is connected to several sizable arteries and veins that branch out and become tinier and thinner the deeper they go throughout your body. 
 
Causes
 
There are many possible causes of cardiomyopathy, including heart attacks, congenital heart defects, severe high blood pressure, viral infections, and heart structure abnormalities. In addition, cardiomyopathy can be caused by nutritional deficiencies and some medical conditions like celiac disease, lupus, and end-stage kidney disease.
 
Cardiomyopathy is characterized into three different, specific types: dilated, hypertrophic, and restrictive. Dilated cardiomyopathy is caused by an enlarged and poorly functioning left ventricle, which is the heart’s main pumping chamber. In hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, the heart muscle has become abnormally thick, making it difficult for the heart to pump blood. A heart that may pump normally but does not relax between heartbeats, making it unable to fill up with adequate blood, characterizes restrictive cardiomyopathy.
 
Symptoms
 
There are many accompanying symptoms of cardiomyopathy. Shortness of breath is a common symptom that can become worse when laying down flat, and may cause you to wake up at night with a sudden shortness of breath. You may experience fatigue, faintness, dizziness, or light-headedness. You may undergo angina (chest pain), and feel your heart prominently beating or sense a sharp pressure or pain in the middle of your chest. The legs, abdomen, or ankles may swell. It is possible that you will urinate less during the daytime and more at nighttime. You may suffer coughing, high blood pressure, and a loss of appetite. You may find alertness and concentration challenging, and your body’s condition overall will feel weakened.
 
Diagnosis
 
After reviewing your medical history and conducting some tests, a doctor can make a diagnosis of cardiomyopathy. They will check your blood pressure, examine your heart and lungs with a stethoscope, and possibly perform blood tests to more closely assess your heart’s condition.
 
To check for heart enlargement and decreased function, your doctor may perform cardiovascular tests. A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan, chest X-ray, or computed tomography (CT) scan may be implemented to create an image of the heart. Similarly, an echocardiogram can generate an image of your heart on a monitor using sound waves. An electrocardiogram (ECG) will record the electrical activity of your heart and detect abnormal rhythms. Coronary angiography is possible through heart catheterization by inserting a long, narrow tube into a blood vessel, reaching the heart to observe heart and coronary artery functions. An X-ray and dye are used together to produce images of the heart and coronary arteries.
 
Treatment
 
Depending on the type and severity of your condition, treatment for cardiomyopathy will vary. It is possible to treat cardiomyopathy with medications and dietary changes. However, individuals suffering a severely weakened heart may require surgery or a pacemaker to sustain life during the search for an available donor heart for transplantation.
 
Am I at Risk
 
Cardiomyopathy can transpire from numerous causes, including being a hereditary condition that runs in some families. Those at risk for cardiomyopathy are people with severe and unregulated high blood pressure, a history of heart attacks, or alcoholism. Additionally, conditions that may increase the likelihood of developing cardiomyopathy include celiac disease, infections, systemic lupus erythematosus, end-stage kidney disease, and nutritional deficiencies.
 
Complications
 
Cardiomyopathy is a long-term condition that can worsen very swiftly, leading to irregular heartbeats, heart failure, and even death. If you suffer persistent chest pain or symptoms of heart failure, call an ambulance immediately.