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What is the Most Effective Cardiomyopathy Treatment?

By Erin J. Hill
Updated May 17, 2024
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The most effective cardiomyopathy treatment will vary based on the type a patient has. The most common type, dilated cardiomyopathy, is usually caused by an underlying condition and treatment will usually aim to treat that condition. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or asymmetric septal hypertrophy, causes a ventricle to enlarge and is usually treated by medications which cause the extra tissue to die. The third form is uncommon and causes the heart to become rigid and stiff. This is generally caused by another health problem, so treatment will be targeted toward treating the other condition while stabilizing medications are used on the heart.

Dilated cardiomyopathy treatment usually involves treating the underlying condition which causes the heart problem. Medications may be given to prevent clotting and to stabilize heart rhythms if arrhythmia is present. Once the patient is fully stabilized, doctors may have to run additional tests to determine what caused the heart to enlarge and fail to work properly. Viral infections are a common cause, as well as failure of other organs or another underlying heart condition.

Occasionally, in severe cases, patients with this type of cardiomyopathy may be placed on a transplant list. This is generally reserved for young patients who have not responded to other treatments. Transplant is typically used a last resort because it carries a higher risk of side effects and complications than other treatments.

Both other types of this condition are uncommon and the underlying conditions which cause them are often not discovered. This may make determining the best cardiomyopathy treatment in these cases difficult. Medications are generally used to stabilize the heart and to treat any symptoms which may be causing problems, but these issues may come back if the cause is not determined. These types are more common in the elderly, so transplant is less likely for these forms.

A fourth form of the condition, which is a sub-type of the dilated form, is known as Barth syndrome and affects males. It is usually discovered sometime during the first year of life. Other abnormalities may also be noted, such as an unusually short length for the child’s age. The most effective cardiomyopathy treatment in this case is to keep the heart stabilized with medication. Occasionally transplant may be needed in very severe cases. There is no cure for Barth syndrome.

Oftentimes an underlying cause for cardiomyopathy is never found. Patients may continue to struggle with symptoms, and sometimes the underlying condition resolves itself and the issues subside. Anyone with unexplained fatigue, shortness of breath, or irregular heart rhythms should seek the advice of a licensed cardiologist.

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