Approximately one in 500 people in the United States may have some form of cardiomyopathy, a condition that makes it more difficult for your heart muscle to pump blood. You can inherit or develop cardiomyopathy; the cause isn’t always clear.
The most common type of cardiomyopathy is dilated cardiomyopathy, in which one of the chambers of the heart that pumps blood is enlarged. Dilated cardiomyopathy affects five out of every 100,000 adults. It’s the third leading cause of heart failure in the United States.
Because cardiomyopathy often has no symptoms at first, our experienced cardiologists at Advanced Medical Care want you to be aware of the most common signs that your heart’s working harder than it should. At our offices in in Brooklyn and Queens, New York, we diagnose and treat all forms of cardiomyopathy, including:
Do you have cardiomyopathy? Here are four warning signs that you might.
Even though cardiomyopathy affects your heart, one warning sign that your heart is struggling to function is that you find it difficult to breathe normally and fully. Your lungs aren't the problem in this case: Your heart simply isn’t pumping strongly enough to keep blood and oxygen flowing.
You may experience breathlessness when engaged in a relatively minor physical activity, such as walking quickly. You could even find yourself short of breath when you’re at rest.
Again, if you notice an unusual symptom such as a bloated abdomen or swollen feet, you may not intuitively associate it with your heart. However, edema is a type of swelling that’s caused by a buildup of fluids in your tissues.
When your heart muscle is weak or compromised, it can’t pump blood forcefully enough to circulate rapidly. Instead, the blood pools or drains back into tissues, causing swelling.
Edema can be the first sign of cardiomyopathy or other heart conditions. Edema can also affect the lungs, which may compromise their function, too.
When your heart is weak, you may not be able to pump enough blood into your brain. This could cause a feeling of lightheadedness or even dizziness.
If you engage in physical activity, you may even faint from the lack of oxygen in your brain. You may be more prone to dizziness and fainting if your heartbeats are irregular.
Chest pain is a classic sign of heart disease. However, it may not always manifest in classic ways. In fact, you may mistake the chest pain of cardiomyopathy for that of heartburn, particularly after you eat a heavy meal.
Another sign that your heart is working harder than normal is having chest pain after physical exertion. Even a jog or run shouldn’t be enough to make your chest hurt.
Strange sensations in your chest, such as fluttering or an irregular heartbeat, could be a sign of cardiomyopathy. Both arrhythmias and heart murmurs are associated with an increased risk for heart failure.
By the time you experience symptoms, your disease may already be at an advanced stage. That’s why it’s essential — and could be life-saving — to get a diagnosis and treatment plan as soon as possible. If you have cardiomyopathy, we may improve heart function, reduce symptoms, and prevent complications with:
Early treatment may reduce the chance that you’d need open heart surgery.
If you have one or more signs of cardiomyopathy, get treatment. To experience outstanding patient-centered care, book an appointment at the Advanced Medical Care office near you for diagnosis and treatment. You can reach us by phone or online.