Cardiomyopathy is a group of diseases that affect the heart muscle. It makes it harder for your heart to pump blood to the rest of your body. Cardiomyopathy can lead to heart failure.
Early on there may be few or no symptoms. Some people may have shortness of breath, feel tired, or have swelling of the legs due to heart failure. An irregular heart beat may occur as well as fainting. Those affected are at an increased risk of sudden cardiac death.
Types of cardiomyopathy include hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, dilated cardiomyopathy, restrictive cardiomyopathy, arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia, and takotsubo cardiomyopathy (broken heart syndrome). In hypertrophic cardiomyopathy the heart muscle enlarges and thickens. In dilated cardiomyopathy the ventricles enlarge and weaken. In restrictive cardiomyopathy the ventricle stiffens.
The main types of cardiomyopathy include dilated, hypertrophic and restrictive cardiomyopathy. Treatment — which might include medications, surgically implanted devices or, in severe cases, a heart transplant — depends on which type of cardiomyopathy you have and how serious it is.
Symptoms of cardiomyopathies may include fatigue, swelling of the lower extremities and shortness of breath.Further indications of the condition may include:
*Breathlessness with exertion or even at rest
*Swelling of the legs, ankles and feet
*Bloating of the abdomen due to fluid buildup
*Cough while lying down
*Heartbeats that feel rapid, pounding or fluttering
*Chest discomfort or pressure
*Dizziness, lightheadedness and fainting
Signs and symptoms tend to get worse unless treated. In some people, the condition worsens quickly; in others, it might not worsen for a long time.
The cause is frequently unknown. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy usually is inherited, while dilated cardiomyopathy is inherited in a third of cases. Dilated cardiomyopathy may also result from alcohol, heavy metals, coronary heart disease, cocaine use, and viral infections. Restrictive cardiomyopathy may be caused by amyloidosis, hemochromatosis, and some cancer treatments. Broken heart syndrome is caused by extreme emotional or physical stress.
Contributing factors for acquired cardiomyopathy include:
*Long-term high blood pressure
*Heart tissue damage from a heart attack
*Chronic rapid heart rate
*Heart valve problems
*Metabolic disorders, such as obesity, thyroid disease or diabetes
*Nutritional deficiencies of essential vitamins or minerals, such as thiamin (vitamin B-1)
*Drinking too much alcohol over many years
*Use of cocaine, amphetamines or anabolic steroids
*Use of some chemotherapy drugs and radiation to treat cancer
*Certain infections, especially those that inflame the heart
*Iron buildup in your heart muscle (hemochromatosis)
*A condition that causes inflammation and can cause lumps of cells to grow in the heart and other organs (sarcoidosis)
*A disorder that causes the buildup of abnormal proteins (amyloidosis)
*Connective tissue disorders
A cardiologist or pediatric cardiologist (doctors who specialize in heart diseases) can make a cardiomyopathy diagnosis based on a patient’s symptoms, medical history, family history, a physical exam and diagnostic test results.
Tests that doctors can use to diagnose cardiomyopathy include:
*Stethoscope reading to listen to the heart and lungs for sounds that may suggest cardiomyopathy
*Physical exam to look for swelling of the ankles, feet, legs, abdomen or bulging veins in the neck
*Chest X-ray to look inside your chest for an enlarged heart
*Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) to record the heart’s electrical activity and rhythm
*Holter and event monitors to monitor the heart’s electrical activity during your normal daily activities
*Echocardiogram (Echo), which uses sound waves to create a moving picture of the heart’s size and shape
*Stress test to check how hard the heart is working, including during exercise or times of exertion
*Cardiac catheterization the check the pressure and blood flow in the heart’s chambers
*Myocardial biopsy to check if changes in cells have occurred inside the heart
*Genetic testing to look for signs of cardiomyopathy in the patient’s parents or siblings
Most of the time cardiomyopathy can be treated so that symptoms don’t become life-threatening. The Cardiomyopathy Association says that
When you are first diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, you may feel overwhelmed by worry and uncertainty … However, there are good treatments for the condition. Ongoing medical care together with positive lifestyle changes can help people affected by cardiomyopathy to manage the disease and lead long and fulfilling lives.
What do we know about cardiomyopathy prognosis? Cardiomyopathy prognosis varies widely and depends on the specific time, cause, and someone’s overall health. Dilated cardiomyopathy is said to have “a poor prognosis,” with about 50 percent of patients typically dying within two years and 25 percent of patients surviving longer than 5 years.
The two most common causes of death are progressive cardiac failure and arrhythmia. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy leads to sudden death is about 3–5 percent in adults and at 6 percent in children and young adults. Restrictive cardiomyopathy also has a poor diagnosis and can be life-threatening within one year.
According to the American Heart Association, the goal of cardiomyopathy treatments include: stopping the disease from progressing, managing any conditions that contribute to the disease, reducing the risk complications (especially sudden cardiac arrest), and controlling symptoms to improve quality of life.
Cardiomyopathy treatment depends on which type of cardiomyopathy someone has, how severe their condition is and their overall health. Treatment typically involves:
Medications to help control contributing conditions and reduce symptoms. Examples of medications that may be prescribed include: ACE inhibitors, angiotensin II receptor blockers, beta blockers and calcium channel blockers to help control blood pressure and slow a rapid heart rate; antiarrhythmics help prevent arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats); electrolytes to help maintain fluid levels; diuretics to remove excess fluid and sodium from the body and prevent swelling; anticoagulants (PDF) or “blood thinners” to help prevent blood clots; and corticosteroids to reduce inflammation.
Surgically implanted devices, such as a pacemaker that sends electrical pulses to prompt the heart to beat normally, cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) device that coordinates contractions between the heart’s left and right ventricles, left ventricular assist device (LVAD) that helps the heart pump blood, or implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) that helps maintain normal heartbeats.
Surgery, such as procedures to remove diseased heart muscle tissue or scar tissue. For people with obstructive hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and severe symptoms, septal myectomy can be performed to remove the thickened septum that’s bulging into the left ventricle.
Alcohol septal ablation, a nonsurgical procedure that helps to kill abnormal cells and shrink thickened tissue back to normal size.
In severe cases, a heart transplant.
Lifestyle and diet changes to help to manage any condition that’s causing or contributing to cardiomyopathy.
Prevention & 6 Natural Remedies for Cardiomyopathy Symptoms:
1. Anti-Inflammatory, Heart-Healthy Diet
You can help reduce your chance of cardiomyopathy and other types of heart disease by making healthy dietary choices.
Eat a variety of fruits, and vegetables, especially high-antioxidant types like oranges, kale and other leafy greens, kiwi, strawberries, grapefruit, red peppers, green peppers, guava, broccoli and other cruciferous veggies.
Limit or avoid refined grains, focusing instead on 100 percent whole or ancient grain products.
Choose foods that are low in saturated and trans-fats and made without processed/refined vegetables oils (like sunflower, safflower, canola or corn oil). Have healthy fats and oils instead like olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds.
Eat clean proteins including grass-fed meat, pastured-raised poultry, wild-caught fish, eggs and organic dairy products.
Avoid high sodium/salt foods, especially if you have high blood pressure. Consider following the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension diet (DASH) which has been shown to help lower blood pressure.
Avoid foods with added sugar and sweetened beverages.
Consume probiotic foods, such as fermented veggies, yogurt or kefir, etc.
Try to increase your intake of omega-3 essential fatty acids, which are found in some fish (such as mackerel and salmon), as well as nuts (such as flax seeds and walnuts).
Drink bone broth, which contains minerals in forms that your body can easily absorb. It’s a good source of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulphur, chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine, which can help to reduce inflammation,
Most people with heart issues should also limit caffeine, since it can cause arrhythmias, act as a stimulant and increase release of adrenaline. Limiting the amount of tea and coffee, energy drinks, sweetened coffee drinks, and high cocoa/chocolate products you consume.
if you experience loss of appetite or nausea, such as due to stomach bloating and pains, then try eating smaller meals spread throughout the day. Avoid having very large, heavy, oily or creamy meals that might make stomach pains worse.
You might also need to limit aggravating foods like FODMAPs (found in many carbohydrates) that can make bloating worse.
2. Control Contributing Conditions (Like High Blood Pressure, High Cholesterol & Diabetes)
Eating a nutrient-dense diet is the No. 1 thing you can do to lose excess weight and help prevent obesity or certain metabolic conditions like diabetes. You should also take steps to quit smoking, lower your alcohol intake, manage stress and get more exercise.
Make sure to get regular checkups from your doctor and to understand the pros and cons of taking any medications. Monitor your symptoms so you can discuss changing meds or other lifestyle habits if necessary if they are causing you side effects.
3. Stay Active & Maintain a Healthy Weight
Regular, moderate exercise is considered to be very important for people with most types of cardiomyopathy (depending on their symptoms). Get clearance from your doctor before beginning any new exercise routine, especially if you are taking medications, have ongoing heart problems, or are experiencing chest pain, shortness of breath or dizziness. Some people with cardiomyopathy may need to avoid intensive or competitive sports or exercise that involves sudden bursts of exertion (such as fast weight lifting, sprinting, etc.). (10)
Exercise is beneficial for people with cardiomyopathy because it can help: control body weight, reduce inflammation, prevent and improve many health conditions such as stroke and type 2 diabetes, help to improve mental well-being by reducing stress and depression, help to build stamina, increase the heart’s ability to pump oxygen to the muscles, improve blood circulation, strengthen the heart muscle, reduces risks of heart disease and high blood pressure, and potentially help prevent heart failure.
Aim to do both strength-building and aerobic exercises regularly, including walking, jogging, cycling, swimming and low-impact aerobics or weight-lifting. To get the most benefits, do at least 30 minutes of exercise, 4 to 5 times a week.
Cardiac rehabilitation is recommended for some people with cardiomyopathy because it combines monitored exercise with tests to see how the patient’s heart copes with different types of exercise, helping to determine what exercise is suitable and safest.
4. Get Enough Sleep & Manage Stress:
Sleep and rest are important for balancing hormones, including stress hormones, and helping the heart to repair any damage. If you’re having trouble sleeping for more than 7–9 hours most night due to problems like stress, sleep apnea or trouble breathing, lifestyle changes that address some of the risk factors above may help.
Maintain a healthy weight to lower your risk for sleep apnea.
Avoid drinking alcohol or caffeine which can disturb sleep cycles, especially when consumed close to bed time.
Sleep in a dark, cool room. Remove any artificial lights and consider getting a white noise/sound machine.
Establish a relaxing routine at night that helps you feel sleepy and calm.
Avoid using electronics (your computer, tablet, phone, TV, etc.) close to bed time. Try reading, stretching or journaling instead.
Talk to your doctor about CPAP devices that can help with maintaining continuous positive airway pressure and stop your airways from collapsing during sleep. Mandibular advancement devices (like a dental gum shield) can also help to maintain a position of the tongue and jaw so that the airway is opened.
Chronic emotional stress or anger can also make the heart work harder, raise blood pressure and increase cortisol levels, stimulate the sympathetic nervous system and cause irregular heartbeats. Relieve stress with relaxation therapy, meditation, yoga, acupuncture, exercise, napping, spending time outdoors, prayer, and anything else you find comforting or calming.
Adaptogenic herbs like rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea) and astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus) can also be very helpful when it comes to supporting overall health and helping you deal with physical and mental stress or fatigue.
5. Avoid the Use of Alcohol, Smoking and Illegal Drugs:
If you have cardiomyopathy (especially dilated cardiomyopathy), it’s recommended that you avoid drinking alcohol or do strictly in moderation. Alcohol can have several negative effects on your heart, such as contributing to arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms), increasing blood pressure, increasing inflammation, contributing to damage to the muscle of the heart, as well as raising the risk for obesity, stroke, liver problems and some cancers. (11)
Alcohol can also interact with some medications, including anticoagulants, and make nutrient deficiencies worse. Men should have one alcoholic drink per day or less, and women should ideally have half to one drink per day at most.
Smoking and drug use, such as cocaine or amphetamines, are major risk factors for heart disease and cardiomyopathy. Smoking and using drugs can negatively impact your heart by causing the release of more adrenaline which increase heart rate and raises blood pressure, damaging the inner lining of some blood vessels (arteries), causing fatty material to build up in the arteries, contributing to blood clots, and narrowing the arteries, making it harder for blood to travel and for enough oxygen to reach the body’s tissues.
For more information about stopping smoking, drug use or drinking, talk to your doctor and visit the NHS stop smoking services or NHS smoke-free service websites.
6. Natural Remedies for Other Symptoms (Irregular Heartbeat, Coughs, Swelling, etc.)
Vagal maneuvers are natural treatments that may help to control heartbeats. These include bearing down (as if you are having a bowel movement to stimulate the vagus nerve), blowing through a syringe: while lying down, face up, for 15 seconds, emerging your face in cold water or placing an ice pack on the face for about 10 seconds, or carotid massage which is done by applying pressure underneath the angle of the jaw in a gentle, circular motion for about 10 seconds.
If you’re experiencing swelling and fluid retention in your legs, feet, arms, etc. try natural diuretics such as: exercising, stretching, elevating swollen areas, and eating foods that fight fluid retention. Some of the best herbs, drinks and foods include: green tea, parsley, dandelion tea, hibiscus, hawthorn berry, celery, lemon juice, garlic and onions, melon and cucumber, asparagus, ginger, and berries.
Natural remedies for coughs include:
Drinking plenty of water throughout the day to make it easier to breathe. Try to drink a glass of water about every two to three hours for a total of about eight glasses per day.
Using a humidifier in your home, especially when you sleep at night. A humidifier can help to loosen mucus and relieve wheezing and limited air flow.
Trying eucalyptus oil, which contains the constituent called cineole, to reduce shortness of breath while improving respiratory function. Pour a cup of boiling water into a bowl and mixing in 10 drops of the oil. Then place a towel over your head as you lean over the bowl and inhale deeply for five to 10 minutes.
Taking a magnesium-rich Epsom salt bath to soothe chest pain and muscle soreness.
Applying warm compresses and heating pads or ice packs to your chest and painful areas, which can be helpful for the temporary relief of aches and inflammation.
Also consider visiting an acupuncturist or chiropractor for help relieving tightness in your chest and improving breathing.
Essential oils can also help reduce stiffness and muscle pains. Peppermint essential oil can be used topically to improve circulation and reduce muscle tension. Lavender oil is useful for promoting relaxation, easing tension and helping you fall asleep.
Finally, talk to your doctor about supplements that may help your condition. Some that can be beneficial for heart health include: Hawthorne berry (Crataegus oxyacantha L) which may be able to reduce angina, high blood pressure, hardening of the arteries, irregular heart beat and even congestive heart failure, vitamin C, omega 3 fatty acids, B vitamins, vitamin D3, and a magnesium supplement.
Key Points About Cardiomyopathy:
Cardiomyopathy refers to a group of diseases of the heart muscle, often which cause an enlarged heart, rigidity, stiffness and thickness of heart tissue, and reduced blood flow.
Symptoms of cardiomyopathy aren’t ways obvious at first, but progress as the condition worsens. Cardiomyopathy symptoms include: shortness of breath, irregular heartbeats, chest pains, edema, abdominal bloating, coughs, fatigue and weakness.
Cardiomyopathy is often idiopathic (has no known cause) but can be triggered by other health conditions or genetic mutations that affect the heart. Risk factors for cardiomyopathy include: having a family history of the condition, having had a heart attack or heart disease in the past, diabetes, obesity, excessive alcohol consumption, autoimmune disorders, and others.
Prevention & 6 Natural Remedies for Cardiomyopathy Symptoms:
*Controlling Contributing Conditions (Like High Blood Pressure, High Cholesterol & Diabetes)
*Exercise & Maintaining a Healthy Weight
*Sleep and Stress Management
*Avoiding Alcohol, Smoking and Illegal Drugs
*Natural Remedies for Other Symptoms (Irregular Heartbeat, Coughs, Swelling, etc.)
Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose.