Cardiomyopathy is not a single disease, but refers to diseases that damage the heart muscle. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that as many as 1 in 500 Americans may have cardiomyopathy, but states that the numbers are uncertain because cardiomyopathy often goes undiagnosed. Cardiomyopathy is treatable, but as with most conditions, treatment is more successful when the condition is discovered early. Knowing about the disease, its risk factors, and symptoms may help you spot warning signs in your parent and help them to get prompt treatment.
Cardiomyopathy are diseases in which the heart muscle becomes thick, rigid, or enlarged. In some rare cases, the heart’s muscle tissue may actually be replaced by scar tissue. The damage to the heart causes it to become weaker and less able to pump blood throughout the body. Untreated cardiomyopathy can result in heart failure.
Types of Cardiomyopathy
There are four main types of cardiomyopathy:
- Hypertrophic: This type of cardiomyopathy is usually hereditary. It is more common in young adults and children. Young athletes sometimes die suddenly of cardiomyopathy without having had symptoms.
- Restrictive: Restrictive cardiomyopathy is the least common type and occurs when the heart muscle is scarred or stiff, and sometimes both.
- Dilated: With dilated cardiomyopathy, one of the ventricles of the heart is larger than normal. The condition can happen at any age and is more common in men than women.
- Arrhythmogenic: Arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathy happens more often in men and causes an irregular heartbeat.
The cause of cardiomyopathy is sometimes undeterminable, but there are many factors that put a person at greater risk for the disease. Some risk factors are:
A family history of heart conditions, including cardiomyopathy, heart failure, and cardiac arrest.
Having had other heart conditions, such as a heart attack or coronary artery disease.
- Alcohol or drug abuse.
- Treatment for cancer.
- Thyroid problems.
- Other conditions that can affect the heart, such as sarcoidosis.
When cardiomyopathy starts, there are often no symptoms at all. However, as the disease gets worse and the heart becomes more damaged, symptoms may gradually appear and worsen over time. Symptoms of cardiomyopathy include:
- Pain in the chest.
- Feeling short of breath either during activity or while resting.
- A heartbeat that is irregular.
- Swelling in the lower limbs.
- Coughing that occurs when the person is lying down.
- Dizziness or fainting.
- Abdominal bloating due to fluid.
If you or your parent’s elderly care provider notices signs of cardiomyopathy, it is important to get them to the doctor for evaluation to prevent serious complications or even death. Family caregivers and elderly care providers can help prevent cardiomyopathy by focusing on risk factors that can be controlled through lifestyle changes. For example, elderly care providers can assist with a weight loss plan by preparing healthy meals for your parent. They can also be a reassuring presence for your parent while they exercise so that they aren’t as worried about injuries.
IF YOU OR AN AGING SENIOR ARE CONSIDERING IN-HOME ELDERLY CARE IN KUNA, ID, PLEASE CONTACT THE CARING STAFF AT HOME HELPERS HOME CARE OF BOISE. CALL US: (208) 322-2668.
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