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Heart Muscle Disease

Diseases of the heart muscle are called cardiomyopathies. When any of the four common types of cardiomyopathies are present, the heart muscle becomes enlarged, thickened or rigid. The most common types are:

  • Dilated cardiomyopathy
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
  • Restrictive cardiomyopathy
  • Arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia

These conditions affect the heart’s ability to effectively pump blood throughout the body. Without treatment, these diseases continue to worsen and cause heart failure or an abnormal heart rhythm.


To make a diagnosis, your physician will discuss your symptoms, medical history and risk factors, and will perform a physical exam.

Diagnostic tests may be ordered to help identify the best type of treatment for you. Specific tests may include:

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG)
  • Chest X-ray
  • Echocardiogram
  • Exercise stress test
  • CT scan
  • Cardiac MRI
  • Cardiac catheterization.

Lifestyle modification & treatment

Your physician may recommend these and other improvements to your lifestyle habits to slow the progression of cardiomyopathy.

  • Smoking cessation: if you smoke, quit.
  • Avoid high-cholesterol foods and adopt a low-fat, 
  • low-salt diet.
  • Monitor your blood sugar if you have diabetes.
  • Exercise regularly to maintain a healthy weight. Talk to your doctor before you start an exercise program.

In addition, medication is often used to treat cardiomyopathies.