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The Causes of Cardiomyopathy

written by: DulceCorazon • edited by: Diana Cooper • updated: 8/28/2010

What are the causes of cardiomyopathy? Causes often depend on the type of cardiomyopathy that affects an individual. Learn more about each one.

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    Cardiomyopathy Overview

    heart muscles 

    Cardiomyopathy, a condition affecting a person's heart muscles, has three common types. These are dilated, hypertrophic and restrictive. The causes of cardiomyopathy often depends on the type of the heart muscle disease that affects an individual.

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    Dilated

    This type of cardiomyopathy is characterized by the dilation or enlargement of the right ventricle, thus making it hard for the heart to pump blood accordingly. It is considered the most common type that affects people and has the most number of known causes. These include:

    • Excessive alcohol intake and cocaine abuse.
    • Exposure to chemicals like arsenic and lead.
    • Heart rhythm problems like atrial fibrillation and supraventricular tachycardia.
    • Autoimmune diseases, like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus erythematosus, which can result in complications related to the heart.
    • Coronary heart disease since this results in inadequate supply of blood to the heart muscles. This can frequently lead to permanent heart muscle injury.
    • Nutrient deficiencies, such as calcium, thiamine and magnesium deficiencies.
    • End-stage renal disease.
    • Heredity also plays a role in cardiomyopathy as families which are genetically predisposed to the condition are more likely to pass this disease to their offsprings.
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    Hypertrophic

    In hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, some muscles of the heart become thicker, thus the size of the heart's chamber decreases. This condition is believed to be caused by:

    • Heredity where the defective gene or genes are being passed in families from one generation to the next.
    • Younger people are more at risk, although it can also affect elder individuals.
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    Restrictive

    In restrictive cardiomyopathy, the heart may either be slightly enlarged or of the normal size. The heart muscles become rigid or less elastic, making it hard for blood to enter and fill the affected chamber. In this condition the heart may no longer be able to pump blood more forcefully and efficiently. The different causes of cardiomyopathy of this type include:

    • Amyloidoisis where amyloid proteins are abnormally deposited in different parts of the body. When it affects the heart, it can lead to restrictive cardiomyopathy.
    • Scarring of the heart due to unknown cause, also referred to as idiopathic myocardial fibrosis is another common cause.
    • It may also be a complication of a heart transplant procedure.
    • Carcinoid heart disease and radiation fibrosis may also lead to this condition.
    • It can also be due to connective tissue disease, like scleroderma.
    • Hemochromatosis, or the increase of iron inside the body may also result in restrictive cardiomyopathy.
    • Sarcoidosis, a condition where clumping of immune cells form in different body parts, most often in the lungs, and sometimes in the heart.
    • Other diseases that affects the body and complicate into restrictive cardiomypathy problems.
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    References

    MedlinePlus: Dilated Cardiomyopathy - http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000168.htm

    American Heart Association: Cardiomyopathy - http://americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=4468

    Mayo Clinic: Cardiomyopathy - http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/cardiomyopathy/DS00519/DSECTION=causes

    Image Credit / http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Heart_frontally_PDA.jpg