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Cardiomyopathy is a disease of the heart muscle. It is a very serious disease in which the heart muscle becomes inflamed and doesn't work as well as it should.

Cardiomyopathy can be classified as primary or secondary. Primary cardiomyopathy can't be attributed to a specific cause, while secondary cardiomyopathy can be related so some other disease such as high blood pressure, heart valve disease, artery diseases or congenital heart defects. It's often associated with diseases involving other organs as well as the heart.

Incidence of the condition

The incidence of cardiomyopathy in US is 400,000 cases per year. This disease afflicts 2-3 million people in the United States. Several studies have found that 5 years after the initial presentation of the disease, 42% of women and 62% of men had died. Long-term survival was found to be inversely proportional to the severity of the disease on the initial diagnosis.
 

Signs and symptoms

Although some people who develop cardiomyopathy may have no signs and symptoms in the early stages of the disease, as the condition advances, signs and symptoms usually appear.

Some of the most common signs are:

  • Breathlessness with exertion or even at rest
  • Swelling of the lower extremities
  • Distention of the abdomen with fluid
  • Fatigue
  • Irregular heart rhythm
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness and fainting
  • Swelling of the legs, ankles, or other portion of the body
  • Abdominal swelling or enlargement
  • Low amount of urine during daytime
  • A need to urinate at night
  • Changes in mental status
  • Decreased alertness


No matter what type of cardiomyopathy we are talking about, it is important to stress out that signs and symptoms tend to progress over time unless the condition is treated.


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