Cardiomyopathy is a disease of
the heart muscle. It can run in families (inherited) and can
affect one or more members of a family.
Some members of a family may be affected more than others and
some family members may not be affected or have any
symptoms at all.
Types of cardiomyopathy
There are three main types of
Another type of cardiomyopathy,
Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, can be caused
by extreme stress. This type is not passed on through families and
very often disappears altogether in time.
What happens to the heart?
The changes to the heart are different for each type of
cardiomyopathy. They all affect the size and shape of the heart and
can also affect the way the electrical system makes the heart
You can read more about how each type of
cardiomyopathy affects you and your heart on the specific pages
listed on the right.
How will cardiomyopathy affect
Although inherited cardiomyopathy
cannot be cured, in most cases living with it will not affect your
quality or length of life. There are many effective treatments that
can help you control your symptoms and you may also need to make
some lifestyle changes too. Your GP and cardiologist will advise
what is right for you.
A small number of people with cardiomyopathy do experience
significant symptoms which mean greater changes to their lives and
their families. In some cases, there is a small risk of sudden arrhythmic death (SADS). It’s important
to discuss this risk with your doctor, who may offer medication or
advise that you need to have an ICD
fitted if you are at an increased risk.
What else do I need to know?
Because cardiomyopathies can be inherited, you
should speak to your doctor about screening for your family. It’s
important that families affected by cardiomyopathy receive accurate
assessment, diagnosis, treatment and support from specialists in a
clinic for inherited heart conditions.
You can also find out more information about
screening for you and your family from the
BHF Genetic Information Service on 0300 456
8383. Lines are usually open from 9am to 5pm Monday
to Friday (charged at a rate similar to 01 or 02 calls). However,
due to travel precautions at the start of the Olympics,
our helplines will be open 8am-4pm on Monday 30th
July, Tuesday 31st July and Wednesday 1st August.