Cardiomyopathy means "disease of the heart muscle." Cardiomyopathy damages the muscle tone of the heart and reduces its ability to pump blood to the rest of the body.

Cardiomyopathy is a leading cause of heart failure and the most common reason for needing a heart transplant.

Cardiomyopathy is so dangerous because it often goes unrecognized and untreated. Also, it is different from other heart problems because it frequently affects younger people.

These are 4 main types of cardiomyopathy:

1) Dilated Cardiomyopathy
2) Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy
3) Restrictive Cardiomyopathy
4) Ischemic Cardiomyopathy

Can cardiomyopathy be prevented?

Although cardiomyopathy is one of the less frequent forms of heart disease, it's still important to be aware of the role heredity plays in the disease and to be familiar with its symptoms.

Check your family's medical history to learn if you are at risk. Even if nobody in your family has cardiomyopathy, you need to know the warning signs:

o Unexplained shortness of breath
o Bloating
o Fainting
o Chest pains

If you have any of these symptoms, see your doctor.
Also, because drinking too much alcohol, eating foods without the proper vitamins, and exposure to toxins can all cause cardiomyopathy, you can lower your risk by living a heart-healthy lifestyle.

Children and Cardiomyopathy

While much has been written about adults with HCM, information regarding children and cardiomyopathy is limited.
At this point, it is estimated 30,000 children are affected by cardiomyopathy of all types (dilated, hypertrophic, restricted, etc.) are considered
It is important for families of affected children to seek the care of a pediatric cardiologist. Cardiologists trained in adult medicine (via an internal medicine training program) are not familiar with the treatment of children with cardiomyopathy.
This can lead to an improper prognosis, lack of proper medication or wrong diagnosis.

Once HCM has been identified in a family, it is advisable to have all immediate family members tested as soon as possible.
Children often do not show signs of HCM and the first sign many children display is that of sudden cardiac arrest. Both invasive and non-invasive techniques exist to detect thickening of the left ventricle and other abnormalities associated with HCM.
The most common non-invasive diagnostic test for detecting HCM is electrocardiography, though the most sensitive test for diagnosing HCM is genetic testing

Beta blockers are often prescribed as the first medical treatment for HCM in children
Many options exist, so it is important to remember to inform one's doctor if undesirable side-effects occur so a switch can be made.
Stopping a beta blocker treatment without the consent of your doctor is never advised.

Risk factors for sudden death in individuals with HCM include a young age at first diagnosis (age < 30 years), an episode of aborted sudden death, a family history of HCM with sudden death of relatives, specific mutations in the genes encoding for troponin T and myosin, sustained supraventricular or ventricular tachycardia, ventricular septal wall thickness over 3 cm, hypotensive response to exercise, recurrent syncope (especially in children), and bradyarrhythmias (slow rhythms of the heart).