Health & Fitness

Matters of The Heart: Cardiomyopathy

On 25th December 2016, a singer, George Michael has died of dilated cardiomyopathy.

What is this?

According to The Star,  dilated cardiomyopathy is the commonest type of cardiomyopathy. In this case, the left ventricle of the heart becomes dilated (membesar). The chambers of the heart become large. But the heart muscle remains thin. As a result, the heart will not be able to pump out blood effectively.


Cardiomyopathy is a term for diseases of the heart muscle where the walls of the heart chambers have become either stretched, thickened or stiff.

Cardiomyopathy according to UK’s National Health Services, can make it harder for the heart to pump and deliver blood to the rest of the body. This condition can eventually lead to heart failure.


The cause of cardiomyopathy and why it occurs in children is not known.

American Heart Association explains,  cardiomyopathy can be caused by another disease or condition.

If cardiomyopathy is inherited, a gene has been passed down from a parent.


MayoClinic states, people with cardiomyopathy may not have any signs and symptoms in the early stages of the disease.

However, signs and symptoms usually appear as the condition advances.

The signs and symptoms may include:

  • Breathlessness (semput) after an activity or even at rest
  • Swelling (bengkak) of the legs, ankles and feet
  • Bloating (kembung) of the abdomen due to fluid buildup
  • Cough while lying down
  • Fatigue (letih yang teramat)
  • Irregular heartbeats that feel rapid, pounding or fluttering (berdebar-debar)
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness (pening), lightheadedness and fainting

For all types of cardiomyopathy, signs and symptoms tend to get worse unless it is treated.


According to Texas Heart Institute, there are 4 main types of cardiomyopathy.

Dilated Cardiomyopathy

Dilated cardiomyopathy, the one that affected George Michael, is also called congestive cardiomyopathy, it affects the chambers of the heart by weakening their walls.

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, the second most common form of cardiomyopathy, it causes the heart’s walls to thicken.

Restrictive Cardiomyopathy

In the United States, restrictive cardiomyopathy is rare.

It gets its name because the condition prevents the heart from stretching properly, which limits the amount of blood that can fill the heart’s chambers.

Some main types of cardiomyopathy and their conditions

Ischemic cardiomyopathy

Cardiac ischemia happens when an artery leading to the heart becomes narrowed or blocked for a short time and oxygen-rich blood cannot reach the heart.

In most cases of ischemia, this temporary blood shortage to the heart causes pain in the chest

The ischemia usually results from coronary artery disease and heart attacks.

Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia (ARVD)

Arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia (ARVD) is a rare form of cardiomyopathy. It occurs when the heart muscle tissue in the right ventricle dies and is replaced by scar tissue.


Treatment varies depending on how damaged the heart is due to cardiomyopathy and the symptoms.

Cardiomyopathy cannot be reversed or cured, but according to Healthline it can be controlled with some of the following options:

  • heart-healthy lifestyle changes
  • medications, including those used to treat high blood pressure, prevent water retention, keep the heart beating with a normal rhythm, prevent blood clots, and reduce inflammation
  • surgically implanted devices, like pacemakers and defibrillators
  • surgery
  • heart transplant, which is considered a last resort

The goal of treatment is to help the heart function as efficiently as possible and to prevent further damage and loss of function.


Inherited types of cardiomyopathy cannot be prevented. However, steps can be taken to lower risk for diseases or conditions that could cause or complicate cardiomyopathy. Examples include coronary heart diseasehigh blood pressure, and heart attack.

The doctor may advise the patient to make heart-healthy lifestyle changes, such as:


When someone is first diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, he or she may feel overwhelmed by worry and uncertainty. This is not unusual.

Ongoing medical care together with positive lifestyle changes can help people affected by cardiomyopathy to manage the disease and lead long and fulfilling lives.

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