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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.

The causes of the common forms of cardiomyopathy include:

Dilated cardiomyopathy
This is definitely the most common form of cardiomyopathy, in which the left ventricle, the heart's main pumping chamber, becomes enlarged and its pumping ability becomes less strong.
Although this type of cardiomyopathy can affect people of all ages, it occurs most often in middle-aged people and with a greater incidence among men than women.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
This type involves the abnormal growth of heart muscle, mostly affecting the muscle of the left ventricle. Because of the thickening, the heart tends to stiffen and the size of the pumping chamber may shrink, interfering with the heart's ability to deliver blood to the body. This disorder can develop at any age, but it tends to be more severe among those people who were diagnosed with it during childhood.

Restrictive cardiomyopathy
During this condition, the heart muscle becomes very rigid and less elastic, interfering with its’ ability to expand and fill the ventricles with blood between heartbeats or contractions. It can occur for an unknown reason or may result from diseases elsewhere in the body that affect the heart. 

Alcoholic cardiomyopathy
This is a type of dilated cardiomyopathy that usually begins about 10 years after the start of heavy alcohol consumption. It can occur with both typical signs of heart failure, as well as with atrial fibrillation or other heart rhythm problems.

Peripartum cardiomyopathy
This is a dilated cardiomyopathy appearing in women during the last trimester of pregnancy, or after childbirth.

Ischemic cardiomyopathy
It is caused by heart attacks, which leave scars in the heart muscle. The affected myocardium is then unable to contribute to the pumping. The larger the scars, the higher the chance of developing ischemic cardiomyopathy.

Although there are many conditions that can cause cardiomyopathy, in most people the cause is unknown. In some people, however, doctors are able to identify the cause or contributing factors, including some that affect the heart and cardiovascular system. Some of the most common causes are also:

  • Sustained high blood pressure
  • Heart valve problems
  • Heart tissue damage from a previous heart attack
  • Chronic rapid heart rate
  • Metabolic disorders, such as thyroid disease or diabetes
  • Nutritional deficiencies of essential vitamins and minerals, such as thiamin (vitamin B-1), selenium, calcium and magnesium
  • Pregnancy
  • Excessive use of alcohol over many years
  • Abuse of cocaine or antidepressant medications, such as tricyclic antidepressants
  • Use of some chemotherapy drugs to treat cancer
  • Certain viral infections, which may injure the heart and trigger cardiomyopathy

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