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Cardiomyopathy refers to diseases of the heart muscle. These diseases have a variety of causes, symptoms, and treatments. In cardiomyopathy, the heart muscle becomes enlarged or abnormally thick or rigid. In rare cases, the muscle tissue in the heart is replaced with scar tissue.

As cardiomyopathy progresses, the heart becomes weaker and less able to pump blood through the body. This can lead to heart failure, arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms), fluid buildup in the lungs or legs, and, more rarely, endocarditis (a bacterial infection of the lining of the heart). The weakening of the heart also can lead to other severe complications.

The four main types of cardiomyopathy are:

  • Dilated cardiomyopathy
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
  • Restrictive cardiomyopathy
  • Arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia (ARVD)

Cardiomyopathy can have a specific cause, such as damage to the heart from a heart attack, high blood pressure, or a viral infection. Some types of cardiomyopathy are caused by a gene mutation and run in families. In many cases, the cause is unknown.

Cardiomyopathy can affect people of all ages, from babies to older adults. However, certain age groups are more likely to have certain types of cardiomyopathy. Treatment may involve medicines, surgery, nonsurgical procedures, and lifestyle changes.

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