Ischemic cardiomyopathy is a disease affecting the heart muscles, and is a major cause of heart failure. To know more about this disease, read on…
Cardiomyopathy is a group of heart diseases, related to the improper functioning of the heart muscles. ‘Ischemic’ means insufficient supply of oxygen and blood to any organ, ‘cardio’ means heart and ‘myopathy’ means muscles. Thus, ischemic cardiomyopathy means insufficient supply of blood and oxygen to the heart, due to dysfunction of the heart muscles. Here we shall look into its causes, risk factors, diagnosis, and treatment.
Blockage of the arteries that supply oxygen and blood to the heart, results in ischemic cardiomyopathy. The blockage may occur as a result of several reasons, like precipitation of cholesterol or any other substance in the arteries. Coronary heart disease is another common cause.
There are numerous factors that increase the risk of ischemic cardiomyopathy, which is the most common type of cardiomyopathy in the United States. Given below is the list of some of the risk factors involved.
- Elevated cholesterol levels
- High fat diet
- High blood pressure
- Personal or family history of heart attack
- Family or personal history of angina, coronary heart disease, or other heart diseases
- Smoking and alcoholism
Patients generally show symptoms of heart failure and angina. The following is a list of symptoms that are observed in patients:
- Breathing problems
- Palpitations (arrhythmia)
- Chest pain
- Swelling (in adults: feet and ankle)
- Increase in weight
- Inability to exercise
When symptoms of coronary heart disease or heart failure are observed in patients, ischemic cardiomyopathy is suspected. The doctor will study the family medical history of the patient, in the initial stage of diagnosis. A biopsy of the heart may be done in rare cases. Following is the list of tests performed to confirm diagnosis of this disease.
Blood test: It helps to reveal arteriosclerosis (increased cholesterol, sugar, etc.).
X-ray: It gives the physician an idea of the size and shape of heart.
CT scan: With the help of multiple X-rays, the 3-dimensional image of the heart can be examined by the physician.
MRI: It gives a cross-sectional image of heart.
Echocardiogram: It uses sound waves to check the functioning of the heart. An image is formed on the screen which helps the physician to study the structure and functioning of the heart, in order to diagnose the exact problem.
Electrocardiogram: It assesses the heart’s activity and helps in confirming a previous heart attack or arrhythmia.
The treatment basically concentrates on improving the functioning of the heart. The treatment depends on the severity of the symptoms observed. The patient is recommended to improve his/her lifestyle. Medications, device implantation, surgery are some of the treatments given to a ischemic cardiomyopathy patient, depending on the severity of the disease.
Change in Lifestyle: Patients addicted to smoking should quit it. A healthy diet that has low cholesterol content should be followed. Salt intake should be avoided strictly.
Medications: They are useful in reducing the symptoms and improving the functioning of the heart. Beta blockers help in preventing further heart attacks. Heart inflammation and blood clots can be avoided using aspirin. ACE inhibitors (inhibitors of Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme), improve the functioning of the heart muscles. Aldosterone blockers, inotropes and anticoagulants are some other useful medications.
Device Implantation: Biventricular pacemaker and ICD (Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillators) are some of the suggested implants to patients. Heartbeats of ventricles are sensed and initiated by biventricular pacemaker, thus increasing tolerance capacity of the heart. ICD is suggested for cases, having severe symptoms. The ICD keeps an eye on the heart rhythms and regulates normal heart rhythm, whenever it detects an increased heart rate.
Surgery: Coronary angioplasty or by-pass surgery can be performed to benefit the patient. Heart transplantation is done, in case of patients, who do not respond to all the normal treatments.
1 in 100 people is found to have ischemic cardiomyopathy. It has become a common reason of death due to heart failure. Eating a healthy diet, quitting smoking, abstaining from drinking alcohol excessively, maintaining a healthy weight and regular check-ups of cholesterol levels, blood pressure and diabetes are the best ways of preventing this disease.