Cardiomyopathy is a possible complication of coronary artery disease. This condition is characterized by the myocardium not getting enough blood to function properly. Here is what you need to know about ischemic cardiomyopathy, its symptoms, causes, and treatment.

The purpose of the heart is to pump blood throughout your circulatory system. Your heart can do this thanks to the contractions of a muscle called the myocardium Cardiomyopathy is a health condition that affects this muscle. It can be fatal if left untreated. Here is what you need to know about ischemic cardiomyopathy.

What Is Ischemic Cardiomyopathy?

What Is Ischemic Cardiomyopathy?

There are different health conditions that can affect the myocardium. This group of heart conditions is known as cardiomyopathy.

Ischemic cardiomyopathy is a complication of coronary artery disease. Patients who suffer from this type of cardiomyopathy are at risk for heart failure because advanced coronary artery disease is reducing blood flow to the myocardium.

As a result, this muscle doesn’t get enough oxygen and can’t function properly. The myocardium can completely stop working if the cardiomyopathy is not treated.


What Are The Symptoms Of Ischemic Cardiomyopathy?

What Are The Symptoms Of Ischemic Cardiomyopathy?

Since this type of ischemic cardiomyopathy is a complication of coronary artery disease, patients typically experience the symptoms of coronary artery disease first. Cardiomyopathy is often diagnosed when patients are followed by a cardiologist or another healthcare professional due to previous heart health problems.

They might not experience any symptoms linked to cardiomyopathy until the myocardium starts to fail. Once blood flow to the myocardium is reduced, symptoms such as fatigue, dizziness, and shortness of breath will appear.

Some patients experience fainting, especially after being physically active. Experiencing pressure in the chest area and chest pain are other common symptoms.

In some cases, patients can feel that their heartbeat is not regular or that their heart is palpitating. A doctor should be able to hear this and determine if there is a heart murmur.

Other symptoms include swelling in the feet, legs, and abdomen, and rapid weight gain. Some patients have a hard time sleeping due to their irregular heartbeat.

Cardiomyopathy can also cause fluids to fill the lungs. If this happens, patients will experience coughing and congestion.

You will probably experience the symptoms of coronary artery disease before blood flow to the myocardium changes. It is important to learn how to recognize these symptoms since you can lower your risks of developing a severe heart condition by getting diagnosed early on and following a treatment plan adapted to your lifestyle and condition.

The symptoms of coronary artery disease include:

  • Pain or discomfort in the chest and arms. 
  • Irregular heartbeat.

What Causes Ischemic Cardiomyopathy?

What Causes Ischemic Cardiomyopathy?

There are different heart conditions that increase your risks of developing ischemic cardiomyopathy. If you are diagnosed with a heart condition, you should talk to your doctor about cardiomyopathy to determine if you are at risk for this complication.

Suffering from coronary artery disease or having a history of heart attacks increase your risks of developing cardiomyopathy. High blood pressure also increases your risks of suffering from a number of heart problems, including coronary artery disease and cardiomyopathy.

Smoking significantly increases your risks of developing a heart condition. Years of smoking often play a part in coronary artery disease. Diabetes and obesity put you at risk for cardiomyopathy and other heart problems.

These health problems cause plaque to build up inside your arteries, which reduces blood flow. Your heart needs to pump blood harder while blood flow to the myocardium is reduced due to the plaque buildup.

You could experience a heart attack if blood flow to the myocardium is completely cut off. If you know you have plaque buildup in your arteries or are at risk for another type of heart problem, you should watch out for the symptoms of cardiomyopathy and see a doctor regularly to keep an eye on how your health condition is progressing.

A history of heart attacks can worsen your risks of developing ischemic cardiomyopathy. Muscle tissues can be damaged during a heart attack, which results in a weakened myocardium.


How Is Ischemic Cardiomyopathy Diagnosed?

heart line with stethoscope

If you are suffering from a heart condition, your doctor will probably recommend that you do some tests on a regular basis to see if you are at risk for complications.

If you haven’t been diagnosed with a heart condition but experience some of the symptoms mentioned above, you should schedule an appointment with a cardiologist and get some tests done.

It is important to get a proper diagnosis because the symptoms of cardiomyopathy often resemble other heart conditions. Only a cardiologist will be able to assess how severe the condition is and whether or not you are at risk for heart failure and other complications.

Your cardiologist will probably recommend that you do an angiogram. This test uses X-rays to detect any blockages inside and outside of the heart. An angiogram can help healthcare professionals find plaque buildup.

You will probably also do an echocardiogram. This test uses sound waves to assess how well your heart is pumping blood. The cardiologist who performs this test will be able to see if your myocardium isn’t getting enough oxygen during this test.

You might also do an electrocardiogram. This test measures the activity of your heart and can be used to determine if you had a heart attack. If you suffered from a heart attack, more tests might be needed to determine if your myocardium was damaged.

If your doctor is monitoring an existing heart condition, you will probably do treadmill stress tests among other tests on a regular basis. The purpose of this test is to detect an irregular heartbeat caused by physical activity.


How Is Ischemic Cardiomyopathy Treated?

How Is Ischemic Cardiomyopathy Treated?

If you are diagnosed with ischemic cardiomyopathy, your doctor will work with you to develop a treatment plan. The purpose of your treatment plan should be to prevent this condition from progressing and putting you at risk for heart failure.

Your treatment plan will probably change as your condition progresses or improves. You should see your doctor regularly and get some tests done to assess how your heart condition is progressing.

Cardiomyopathy can’t be completely cured, but it is possible to lower your risks of experiencing heart failure by following a treatment plan that is adapted to your condition.

Lifestyle Changes

Lifestyle changes are often needed to lower the risks of heart failure and other complications. Your doctor will recommend that you adopt a heart-healthy lifestyle.

You might already have adopted a heart-healthy diet after being diagnosed with coronary artery disease. More changes might be needed if your symptoms are worsening and if cardiomyopathy appears.

You can adopt a heart-healthy diet by staying away from foods with high sugar, salt, and fat content. You will probably need to introduce more lean proteins, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables to your diet.

Losing weight can considerably reduce your risks of developing complications from a heart condition. You can achieve this through a healthy diet and moderate exercise.

You should talk about exercise with your doctor. Staying active is an important part of managing a heart condition, but you shouldn’t engage in activities that will exhaust you or increase your heart rate.

If you are smoking, quitting should be a priority. Smoking will make any existing heart conditions worse.

You can adopt a healthy lifestyle to manage your coronary artery disease and lower the risks of developing cardiomyopathy. If cardiomyopathy is already present, adopting a heart-healthy lifestyle will lower your risks of heart failure.

Medication

Medication can be a part of your treatment plan. It isn’t possible to take a medication to reverse the damage that is already caused to your heart, but medication can help regulate blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Your doctor can also prescribe a medication that will prevent clotting or fluid build-up.

Pacemakers

Pacemakers are often used to regulate heartbeat. You can have a pacemaker or an implantable cardioverter defibrillator installed if you are at risk for heart failure.

These devices are installed thanks to a surgical procedure. They will regulate your heartbeat and stimulate your heart muscle if your heartbeat slows down.

These devices won’t reverse your cardiomyopathy but help with symptoms like irregular heartbeat and can prevent heart failure.

Surgical Procedures

Depending on how severe your heart condition is, your doctor might recommend a surgical procedure. Heart attacks can cause damage to the myocardium. If your myocardium isn’t functioning properly due to damaged tissues, it is possible to surgically remove these tissues.

A surgeon can use a procedure known as septal ablation to inject alcohol into the myocardium and eliminate these damaged tissues. In some cases, a surgeon can use radiofrequency to remove the damaged tissues.

It is also possible to address cardiomyopathy thanks to a heart transplant. This is a very advanced procedure that carries several risks. This procedure isn’t considered unless a patient’s life is in danger.

You should see a cardiologist if you have any of the symptoms mentioned above and suspect you might be suffering from a heart condition. It is important to get an accurate diagnosis so you can work with your doctor and create a treatment plan adapted to your needs.

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