Dilated, Non-Ischemic Cardiomyopathy

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Dilated cardiomyopathy is a form of heart disease that causes the left ventricle to stretch abnormally. This stretching thins, or dilates, the ventricle and prevents it from pumping blood as effectively as a healthy heart can. Finding a specific cause for an individual case of dilated cardiomyopathy may be difficult, especially in patients with multiple risk factors, such as high blood pressure, obesity, coronary artery disease or a family history of dilated cardiomyopathy.

Symptoms of Dilated Cardiomyopathy
Symptoms of dilated cardiomyopathy can include the following: 

  • Chest pain (angina) 
  • Irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) 
  • Cough 
  • Fatigue and the inability to engage in an active lifestyle 
  • Shortness of breath during vigorous activity or when lying down 
  • Dizziness or fainting 
  • Swelling in the ankles, legs or feet 
  • Abdominal swelling (ascites) 
  • Weight gain 
  • Change in appetite 
  • Increase in symptoms after a meal


Diagnosing and Treating Dilated Cardiomyopathy
If your doctor suspects dilated cardiomyopathy, one the following diagnostic tools may be used:


Symptoms of dilated cardiomyopathy can often be treated with medication alone. If medication is not sufficient, other options may be necessary:

  • pacemaker is a small device inserted into the chest to control the rhythm of the heart
  • left ventricular assist device is a small device inserted into the chest to help the heart pump blood efficiently
  • Heart transplant is the surgical replacement of the patient’s heart with that of an organ donor