Dilated Cardiomyopathy

Your input helps shape an effective treatment plan.

JoAnne M. Foody, 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

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.

Frailty Increases Risk of Heart Disease in Older Adults

Mar 10, 2015
Addressing early signs of frailty could help ward off heart conditions later in life.

Peanuts: A Low-Cost Food with a High Impact on Health

Mar 10, 2015
The humble legume offers heart-health benefits on par with more expensive nuts.

Cardiomyopathy Increases Heart Risks in Pregnant Women

Mar 10, 2015
Women who develop diseases of the heart muscle during pregnancy have the greatest risk of complications.

Moderate Physical Activity Benefits the Heart the Most

Feb 27, 2015

Study finds that women who exercise moderately—not strenuously—a few times a week have lower risk for heart attack and stroke.

Sauna Use Linked to Improved Heart Health

Feb 27, 2015
Study follows sauna bathers for over two decades and finds lower rates of sudden cardiac death among most frequent users.

Underestimating a Rare Heart Condition in Pregnant Women

Feb 17, 2015
Peripartum cardiomyopathy is underdiagnosed and may be more common than previously estimated.

Survey: 1 in 3 Americans Prefers Shorter Life to Daily Pill

Feb 06, 2015

Researchers explore the uptake of a preventive heart disease medicine.

Running for Health? Moderation is Key

Feb 02, 2015

You don’t have to be a marathon runner to reap full benefits, according to a new study.

Study Questions Strict Sodium Guidelines for Older Adults

Jan 28, 2015

Reducing sodium intake to less than 1,500 mg a day may be excessive for older adults.

Ability to Process Nicotine Linked to Efficacy of Patch vs. Pill

Jan 26, 2015
How quickly smokers metabolize nicotine may impact whether the nicotine patch or Chantix works best, finds study.

Experts Emphasize the Importance of Cardiac Rehabilitation

Jan 26, 2015
Despite its value and importance, cardiac rehab is vastly underutilized by patients.

Report Raises Awareness for Health Effects of Air Pollution

Dec 23, 2014
A thorough review of studies highlights the negative impact of air pollution on heart health.

Daily Aspirin Fails to Prevent Heart Attack, Stroke in Older Adults Free of Heart Disease

Dec 23, 2014
A large Japanese study finds no association between once-daily, low-dose aspirin and risk for heart attack, stroke or death in older adults.

Keeping Added Calories in Check: Sugars and Sweeteners

Dec 03, 2014
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Americans today consume nearly 20% more added sugar in their daily diet than they did 40 years ago.

Risks and Benefits of Extending Drug Treatment After Stent

Nov 20, 2014
Lengthening anti-clotting treatment after stent implantation may prevent heart attacks but increases risk of bleeding, finds new study.

Head-to-Head Comparison of Big-Name diets

Nov 19, 2014
No single big-name diet is superior when it comes to long-term weight loss, finds study.

Exposure to Secondhand Smoke Overlooked in Heart Patients

Nov 18, 2014
Secondhand smoke worsens outcomes for patients living with heart disease, but is often overlooked.

Lupus Linked to Congenital Heart Defects

Nov 13, 2014
Study finds that women with lupus are almost 3 times more likely to have a child with a congenital heart defect.

Study Reveals Paradox of Cigarette Sales in Pharmacies

Oct 31, 2014
Patients at risk of smoking-related diseases often purchase cigarettes at the same pharmacy used to fill prescription medications.

Healthy Fats Lower Cholesterol, Despite Weight Gain

Oct 23, 2014
Healthy fats help offset the negative impact of weight gain on heart health, finds a recent study.

Rapid Weight Loss is Not So Bad, After All

Oct 23, 2014
Gradual vs. rapid weight loss has little impact on long-term weight control.

Keeping Radiation to a Minimum for Heart Patients

Oct 10, 2014
With radiation exposure a hot topic in recent years, here are strategies for enhancing radiation safety in heart imaging.

Childhood Risk Factors Have Lifelong Impact on Heart Health

Oct 10, 2014
Weight and blood pressure during childhood have a long-lasting impact on heart function later in life.

Obesity Rates Plateau in U.S., but Waistlines Continue to Expand

Sep 24, 2014
More than half of American adults have abdominal obesity, according to national trends from the last decade.

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