Is Dilated Cardiomyopathy Reversible?

Cardiomyopathy affects the heart muscle, causing stiffness, which results in reduced functionality of the heart. It can occur in different formats and subgroups. However, the common and the most occurring forms are dilated cardiomyopathy, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, restrictive cardiomyopathy, and arrhythmogenic right ventricle cardiomyopathy.

In the United States alone, around eight people suffer from dilated cardiomyopathy for every 100,000. Approximately 10,000 die from the illness and 46,000 receive medical attention every year. It is also one of the usual reason behind heart transplantation.

Is Dilated Cardiomyopathy Reversible?

Understanding Heart Function

The heart contains four chambers – the left atrium, right atrium, left ventricle, and right ventricle. The heart welcomes the blood from the body through the right atrium and the right ventricle. The heart pumps the blood out into the body into the lugs through the right ventricle, where mixing of oxygen occurs. The blood reverts to the heart through the left atrium. The blood on the left atrium flows into the left ventricle, where the heart pumps the blood through the aorta to deliver the oxygen through the blood to muscles, brain, organs, and tissues.

The Functionality Of Heart In Dilated Cardiomyopathy

In case of dilated cardiomyopathy, the muscle of the heart chamber become dilated or enlarged. Because of this, the heart muscle loses its strength. Due to this, it becomes difficult for the blood to flow to the body and into the lungs. As the body receives a reduced intake of oxygen and blood, the heart function is harder to meet the demand of the body. Dilated cardiomyopathy affects the left ventricle causing a change in the shape. The chances of increasing the severity are high, and in such cases, the heart becomes enlarged. Because of this reason, the symptoms of heart failure develop drastically.

The term heart failure is often misleading because the heart does not stop to function. However, there is a decrease in the functionality. Heart failure occurs only when an individual experiences a high degree of severity with no symptoms. In such situations, the heart muscle experiences significant damage leaving the individual with multiple debilitating symptoms. The symptoms include fatigue, shortness of breath, dizziness, chest pain, and swelling of ankles, legs, and feet.

The Causes Of Dilated Cardiomyopathy

The causes of dilated cardiomyopathy are several. However, the causes for the occurrence are unknown in more than 50% of the patients. Such a category of cardiomyopathy is known as idiopathic.

Is Dilated Cardiomyopathy Reversible?

Dilated cardiomyopathy is reversible only in cases where the causes are reversible. In such circumstances, it is possible to improve the condition of the patient by treating the symptoms or eliminating the signs.

In other situations, the causes of dilated cardiomyopathy produce irreversible damage. In such cases, the treatment shifts in optimizing the functionality of the heart, which helps in preventing further damage that leads to heart failure. The focus shift also helps in preventing complications such as blood clots and irregular heartbeat.

The typical symptoms of dilated cardiomyopathy include:

  • Shortness of breath that progresses to shortness of breath at rest
  • Shortness of breath when sleeping
  • Sudden development of breathlessness at night
  • Impaired ability
  • Swelling of legs, ankles, and feet

It is common for people between 20 and 60 years to experience the symptoms as mentioned above. However, an individual can notice signs of heart failure only when there is progress in the disease. It is possible for the symptoms to worsen or abruptly appear. Often, it is not possible to cite the presence of dilated cardiomyopathy in its early stage. Discovery of heart enlargement occurs only during a test conducted for treating another ailment such as undergoing a chest x-ray.

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Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:October 17, 2018

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