Causes Of Ischemic Cardiomyopathy: Its Symptoms & Treatment

Hypertrophy of heart muscles is common sequelae of ischemic heart disease. In ischemic cardiomyopathy the muscles of heart become weak, and thus they cannot pump well. Patients who have suffered heart attack in the past or have coronary artery disease are at risk of suffering from this condition.

In coronary artery disease the arteries that supply blood to heart becomes narrow. This affects blood supply to the heart muscles leading to gradual damage. In ischemic cardiomyopathy, the left ventricle of the heart becomes enlarged and weak. As a result the heart is unable to pump enough blood and ultimately leads to heart failure.

Treatment consists of drugs that are helpful in improving the function of heart. Regular exercise and practicing healthy lifestyle are other important factors that will be beneficial for improving prognosis of ischemic cardiomyopathy.

Causes And Risk Factors For Ischemic Cardiomyopathy

Ischemic cardiomyopathy is usually seen in middle aged and elderly individuals. It is a condition in which the main chambers of heart called the ventricles become hypertrophy and weak due to reduced supply of blood to heart muscles. The condition develops after heart attack or with blockages in the coronary arteries.

When the heart muscles do not get enough blood supply, they get damaged.

The left ventricle has to pump more and as a result the muscle walls of left ventricle become weak and enlarged in size. Gradually it leads to congestive cardiac failure.

There are several risk factors for ischemic cardiomyopathy:

  • Past history of heart attack.
  • Heart attack at young age in males and females is a definite risk factor for ischemic cardiomyopathy.
  • Factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol level in blood, obesity, diabetes etc which affects the supply of blood heart muscles can lead to this condition.
  • Blockage in the coronary artery due to formation of plaque.
  • Medical diseases such as renal failure and peripheral vascular disease.

Symptoms Of Ischemic Cardiomyopathy

The symptom manifestation ischemic cardiomyopathy is dominated by symptoms of left ventricular failure. The clinical presentation may vary as many patients remain asymptomatic or the onset may be gradual.

  • In majority of patients the first apparent symptom is swelling in both the legs and breathlessness with physical activity. The symptoms after a period of time become worse.
  • Breathlessness in the preliminary stage is often experienced by the patient after physical work. But over a period of time, patient may feel breathless even at rest.
  • As a result the person feels difficulty to lie in the bed. He feels more comfortable in sitting position.
  • Patient wakes up in the middle of night as he has to gasp for breath.
  • Pain in chest.
  • Person feels weak and fatigued to perform even a minor task.
  • Lightheadedness and dizziness are some of the accompanying symptoms.

Diagnosis And Treatment For Ischemic Cardiomyopathy

Physical examination, medical history and medical tests are helpful for diagnosis of ischemic cardiomyopathy. The doctor orders certain tests such as ECG and echocardiogram for detailed analysis of heart function. He may also recommend coronary angiography to rule out any blockage. Many other tests and x-ray are useful for diagnosis of the disease.

The treatment of ischemic cardiomyopathy is aimed at improving the function of heart and reducing its workload.

  • Patient is prescribed certain drugs to improve heart function. ACE inhibitor is the drug of choice to improve heart function.
  • Other drugs such as beta blockers and digogxin are also use as and when required.
  • The excess of fluid collection in the body is dealt with diuretic drugs.
  • Patient is also given medicines to control hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, etc.
  • Low salt diet to control high blood pressure, diet rich of fibers and fruits is beneficial for overall well being in such patients.
  • Patient should also perform regular exercise and avoid eating fried and fatty foods.