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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.

Before any other tests, every doctor should conduct a physical examination and inquire about patient’s medical history, including the family history of heart problems. If a doctor suspects cardiomyopathy as a possible cause, patient may need to have several tests to confirm the diagnosis and rule out other conditions and some of the most common tests are:

Chest X-ray
It is clear that an X-ray image of the heart will show whether it's enlarged or not.

This is a very good diagnostic tool because it uses the sound waves or ultrasound to non-invasively create images of patient’s heart. Doctor can then view the size of the heart and its motions.

Electrocardiogram (ECG)
This is also a noninvasive and very effective test. It can be simply done with small electrode patches that are being attached to the patient’s skin to measure the electrical impulses from the heart. It can show disturbances in the electrical activity of the heart, which may identify abnormal heart rhythms.

Cardiac catheterization and biopsy
During this procedure, a thin tube called catheter is guided through patient’s blood vessels and into heart, where a small sample can be extracted for analysis in the laboratory. It can also measure pressure within the chambers of patient’s heart.

Blood tests
o    A specific blood test can measure the quantity of the brain natriuretic peptide (BNP), a protein produced in heart. It is proven that blood level of brain natriuretic peptide rises when heart is subjected to the stress of congestive heart failure.

  • Another blood test measures iron level. Having too much iron in blood may indicate an iron overload disorder called hemochromatosis. Accumulating too much iron in your heart muscle can weaken it.
  • Thyroid problems that can affect the heart can also be detected by a simple blood test.
  • Blood Chemistries: CBC, lipid profile (cholesterol test), and cardiac enzymes.
  • CBC (Complete Blood Count). Red and white blood cells are counted, as well as platelets.
  • Urine pregnancy test
  • Urine toxicology screen

Possible complications if left untreated

Several studies done in the past have proven that untreated cardiomyopathy can lead to several complications of which some are very dangerous. The most common are:
Blood clots
All types of cardiomyopathy can make a patient more susceptible to forming blood clots in their heart. Problem is that, if these clots are pumped out of the heart and enter th circulatory system, they can obstruct the blood vessels and blood flow to vital organs, including your heart and brain. This is a lethal condition. If clots develop on the right side of your heart, they may travel to your lungs. This is why cardiomyopathy patients are given anticoagulant medications.

Heart murmur
Since the heart is extremely enlarged due to this condition, two of the heart's four valves may not close properly because they stay small! This is often leading to the backflow of blood and heart murmurs.

Cardiac arrest
It is proven that all forms of cardiomyopathy can lead to abnormal heart rhythms.

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