Cardiomyopathy > Symptoms

Symptoms of Cardiomyopathy

Patient history is a vital component in identifying hereditary cardiomyopathy since this condition often does not present with symptoms.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Cardiomyopathy?

Many patients with Cardiomyopathies may not display any signs or symptoms and may not be aware that they have a potentially deadly heart condition.

Patient history is key to the identification of family members who may have suffered a sudden cardiac death event or survived a cardiac arrest. This information should alert physicians to consider a non-ischaemic cause of cardiomyopathy. 

Typically, patients may present with signs of heart failure, which include:

  • Shortness of breath,
  • A decline in exercise tolerance,
  • Swollen ankles and/or feet,
  • Fatigue, 
  • Irregular pulse,
  • Dizziness and syncope.1

Cardiologist and Heart Failure Specialist, Dr Scott McKenzie outlines the signs and symptoms of heart failure in the below video:

 

Diagnosis of Cardiomyopathy

Traditional diagnosis may be difficult depending on the type of cardiomyopathy, as many patients may not have any signs or be aware they have the condition. The time required for a formal diagnosis of Cardiomyopathy may depend on the frequency and severity of symptoms (if any). A physical examination may show:

  • Signs of heart failure (shortness of breath / swollen ankles),
  • Weight gain,
  • Crackling in lung fields when listened to using a stethoscope which may indicate fluid in the lungs,
  • Irregular heartbeat.

 

Family History

Family history may include:

  • Family members with a history of heart failure (cardiomyopathy),
  • Sudden cardiac death of a relative,
  • History of dizziness,
  • Family members with heart-related issues.

 

Diagnostic Tests

Diagnostic tests may include the following:

  • Blood tests to look for abnormal electrolytes or heart failure specific markers indicating abnormalities
  • Genetic testing to identify if there's a strong history of sudden cardiac death 
  • Chest x-ray to identify fluid in the lungs as well as an enlarged heart
  • Electrocardiograph (ECG) to look for abnormal electrical activity / heart rhythms2
  • Echocardiography which looks at the structures of the heart as well as measuring the cardiac output and assesses the pump function of the ventricles. This may highlight the ejection fraction (EF) which is a measure of pump function. If the EF is less than 35% the patient may be at higher risk of a sudden cardiac death event3
  • Holter monitoring for detailed heart rhythm assessment over a set period of time when looking for abnormal heart rhythms.4

 

Learn more about the treatment options for Cardiomyopathy

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