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.