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URMC / URMC Cardiology / Patient Care / Conditions / Cardiomyopathy


What is it?

The heart is a muscle. “Cardiomyopathy” means a disease of the heart muscle.

There are several types of cardiomyopathy. In dilated cardiomyopathy, the heart is enlarged and has trouble pumping. In hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, the heart muscle is thickened, often restricting blood flow. In restrictive cardiomyopathy, the walls of the heart are stiff and can’t function as well.

Cardiomyopathy can lead to heart failure, heart rhythm problems, and sudden cardiac arrest.

What are the symptoms?

Patients may have no symptoms in the initial stages of cardiomyopathy. As the disease progresses, symptoms tend to get worse.

The following are some of the symptoms of cardiomyopathy:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Swelling in the ankles, feet and legs
  • Fatigue
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness

How is it treated?

Medications. Many medications are available that can help improve symptoms, boost heart function and increase survival.

Surgery. By removing or destroying part of the thickened heart muscle through surgery, the function of the heart may be substantially improved.

Alcohol septal ablation for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. We are one of the few centers in the country that provides this specialized procedure.

Implantable defibrillator. If you are at risk of sudden cardiac death, your cardiologist may recommend an implantable defibrillator. Should your heart stop, a shock from the defibrillator can restore your heart’s normal rhythm.

Pacemaker. For some people with cardiomyopathy, the implantation of a pacemaker can help to regulate the rhythm of the heart.

Ventricular assist device. A VAD, or artificial heart pump, is a mechanical device that helps your heart to pump. In severe cases of heart failure, VADs are able to improve dramatically the symptoms of cardiomyopathy

Heart transplant. In serious cases of cardiomyopathy, a heart transplant may be required.

What is URMC’s approach?

URMC Cardiology provides all of the latest and most modern approaches to the treatment of advanced cardiomyopathy.

Our Program in Heart Failure and Transplantation is the only such program in the region. We have performed over 125 heart transplants and implanted over 170 ventricular assist devices. We are also one of the nation’s leaders in research on Ventricular Assist Devices, one of the most promising treatments for patients with cardiomyopathy and heart failure.

URMC Cardiology is part of URMC, the only academic medical center in the region. The research we perform here at URMC keeps us on the leading edge of treatments for heart disease.

Who should I contact?

If you have symptoms of cardiomyopathy, contact URMC Cardiology at (585) 273-3760.

Learn more about the Program in Heart Failure and Transplantation at URMC.

View this topic in our Health Encyclopedia.