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Lehigh Valley Children's Hospital

Cardiomyopathy (Heart Muscle Disease)

Cardiomyopathy or heart muscle disease describes several conditions that cause heart muscle tissue to thicken and become rigid or stiff. The heart specialists with Lehigh Valley Heart Institute can diagnose cardiomyopathy and recommend treatments for you.

Cardiomyopathy can affect people of all ages, including those considered healthy, such as athletes.

As heart muscle thickens, the heart becomes weaker and cannot effectively pump blood through the body. Types of cardiomyopathy include hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, dilated cardiomyopathy, and restrictive cardiomyopathy. The heart experts at Lehigh Valley Heart Institute can recommend the most effective treatment for you.

Causes of cardiomyopathy

In many people, the risk for cardiomyopathy is inherited. There are certain conditions that can contribute to the development of heart muscle disease including high blood pressure, diabetes and thyroid disease. In some cases, infections, medications or other toxins can cause cardiomyopathy.

Often there are no symptoms until the disease is advanced. Those signs include shortness of breath, feeling tired, and swelling in extremities (ankles, legs) and in the abdomen.

Treatment for cardiomyopathy

Care for cardiomyopathy ranges from lifestyle changes to surgery. You and your Heart Institute cardiologist will discuss the best options for you.

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