Cardiomyopathy is a disease of the heart muscle. It can run in families and can affect one or several 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 cardiomyopathyMan and kids on beach

There are three main types of inherited cardiomyopathy:

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 your heart are different for each type of cardiomyopathy. They all affect the size and shape of your heart and can also affect the way the electrical system makes your heart beat.

You can read more about how each type of cardiomyopathy affects you and your heart on the specific pages listed on the right.

Treatments for cardiomyopathy 

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 open from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday (charged at a rate similar to 01 or 02 calls).

Want to know more?

The British Heart Foundation produces a range of print and digital resources that are free for the public to access. For more information about cardiomyopathies, order or download the following resources:

Arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy

Dilated cardiomyopathy

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy


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