Dilated Cardiomyopathy

Your input helps shape an effective treatment plan.

Martha Gulati, MD, FACC, CardioSmart Editor-in-Chief

Usually when we say someone has a “big heart,” it’s a good thing. However, if your actual heart muscle is enlarged, it means you can’t pump blood through your body as efficiently.  This is what happens if you have a condition called dilated cardiomyopathy. Your heart muscle stretches (dilates) and weakens. Cardiomyopathy mostly affects your left ventricle—the main pumping chamber of your heart.

Dilated cardiomyopathy can be caused by a number of factors. For example, you can develop it as a result of health conditions like coronary artery disease or high blood pressure, or it can result from health behaviors like alcohol abuse. It can affect any person at any age, including pregnant women, but is most common in adult men.

Dilated cardiomyopathy may not cause any symptoms at first. Over time, if your heart is not pumping as well as it should, you may feel very tired or you may find yourself short of breath after bouts of activity or after lying down.  Dilated cardiomyopathy can lead to problems such as irregular heart rhythms, stroke, heart attack, and heart failure.

An important part of your treatment will be taking good care of yourself. Use this condition center to learn more about dilated cardiomyopathy. You can keep up with the latest research, find questions to ask your doctor, and get tips to help you feel your best.

Dilated Cardiomyopathy News & Events

Too Little Exercise Remains a Prime Concern for Americans

Jan 18, 2016
Experts reaffirm that health benefits from exercise far outweigh risks.

Heart Disease Remains Top Killer in the United States

Jan 10, 2016

Heart disease accounts for 1 in 3 deaths, highlighting an urgent need for prevention and treatment.

Declines in U.S. Death Rates Have Slowed

Nov 19, 2015
Researchers measure progress on heart disease and other leading causes of death, and identify areas for improvement.

Low-Fat Diets Not the Best Weight Loss Solution

Nov 19, 2015

A review of more than 50 clinical trials comparing low- versus higher-fat diets shows no significant difference in weight loss results.

African-American Veterans Healthier Than White Counterparts

Oct 22, 2015

Analysis of VA data stands in contrast to health disparities in the general U.S. population.

Music Boosts Heart Health

Oct 13, 2015
Music’s effect on heart activity, blood pressure and breathing bodes well for health.

A Healthy Lifestyle in Midlife Makes for Healthier Golden Years

Oct 13, 2015

The benefits of healthy choices carry long into older adulthood.

Enter the "I am CardioSmart" Contest

Oct 05, 2015

Tell us how you are living well with heart disease for a chance to win a trip for two to Chicago in April 2016!

Longer, But Not Necessarily Healthier, Lives

Sep 25, 2015
While life expectancy continues to rise, heart disease becomes the leading cause of disability around the world.

Deep Belly Fat Increases Cardiovascular Risk

Sep 18, 2015
Study finds that both volume and type of belly fat have an impact on heart health.

Age and Gender Differences in Heart Disease Mortality Rates

Sep 17, 2015
Despite recent drops in cardiovascular mortality rates, death toll among young adults remains high.

Economic and Social Forces Have Big Impact on Heart Health

Aug 21, 2015
The American Heart Association has issued a scientific statement addressing social factors that influence risk for heart disease.

Chocolate Protects Against Heart Disease and Stroke

Jul 01, 2015
Moderate chocolate consumption helps, not harms, cardiovascular health.

Action, Not Advice, Helps Smokers Quit

Jun 25, 2015
Creating a quit plan and providing tools for ongoing support is more effective than education alone in helping smokers quit.

Alcohol Alters Heart Function in Elderly Adults

Jun 08, 2015

Study finds that drinking alcohol causes changes in heart size and function, especially in elderly women.

Cash Incentives Help Smokers Quit

Jun 03, 2015
Rewards-based programs are much more appealing than deposit-based programs, which require smokers to risk their own money.

Mediterranean Diet Improves Memory and Brain Function

May 26, 2015
A diet rich in olive oil and nuts may improve brain function and reduce risk for dementia.

A National Plan to Get America Moving

May 11, 2015

Proposed changes to our physical and social environments encourage regular physical activity for Americans throughout the course of the day.

Sudden Cardiac Arrest Rare for Adults Engaged in Sports

Apr 23, 2015

Study highlights the benefits of exercise and sports in middle-aged adults, as well as CPR training.

Is There an Exercise 'Sweet Spot' for Longer Life?

Apr 23, 2015
Two large-scale studies take a close look at meeting or exceeding current exercise guidelines, but one thing is clear: Any physical activity is far better than none.

Strategies for Combatting Childhood Obesity

Apr 07, 2015
Early lifestyle interventions are urgently needed to stop growing childhood obesity rates.

Children of Smokers Have Increased Risk of Heart Disease in Adulthood

Apr 03, 2015

Quitting is the best approach for the health of the family, but limiting children’s exposure to smoke can help.

Exercise Prevents Fall Injuries in Older Women

Apr 03, 2015

Finnish study assesses the effects of Vitamin D and strength training in women prone to falling.

CardioSmart News

Short Hospital Stays after Angioplasty Are Often Sufficient for Older Patients

Mar 31, 2015
Study finds patients 65 or older discharged from the hospital as early as 48 hours after angioplasty following a heart attack have similar outcomes as those who stay four-to-five days.

What Kind of Exercise is Best for Waist Size?

Mar 13, 2015
Both low- and high-impact exercise help us lose weight, but each provides different types of added benefits.