What is Cardiomyopathy?
Cardiomyopathy is a heart condition in which the heart muscle becomes weakened and enlarged. In this state, the heart is less able to efficiently and effectively pump oxygenated blood throughout the body, which causes a multitude of issues. In severe cases, cardiomyopathy can cause heart failure.
There are three different types of cardiomyopathy:
- Dilated cardiomyopathy: More common in men and middle-aged people, dilated cardiomyopathy sometimes runs in families and primarily impacts the left ventricle.
- Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy: Often attributed to genetic mutations and a family history, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy involves abnormal heart enlargement or heart muscle thickening.
- Restrictive cardiomyopathy: The least common form of cardiomyopathy, restrictive cardiomyopathy is most common in older people. The heart muscle becomes rigid or "restrictive." With decreased elasticity, the heart cannot function properly.
What Are The Symptoms of Cardiomyopathy?
Cardiomyopathy has several symptoms, all of which tend to worsen until diagnosis and treatment. Some of these symptoms may come on quickly, while others may develop gradually:
- Trouble breathing (breathless feeling) with and without exertion
- Edema (swelling) of the lower extremities
- Abdominal fluid buildup and bloating
- Lightheadedness that can include fainting
- Abnormal fatigue
What Causes Cardiomyopathy?
In most cases, doctors are unable to identify a specific cause of a patient's cardiomyopathy. However, ongoing research has identified contributing factors with the hopes of helping reduce risk and prevent future cases. The list is long, and includes some factors that are contributors to multiple heart issues, such as the following:
- High blood pressure
- Thyroid disease
- Viral infections
- Chemotherapy medications
What Are The Risks of Cardiomyopathy?
Cardiomyopathy may cause serious, life-threatening conditions and situations:
- Heart failure
- Blood clots
- Heart valve issues
- Cardiac arrest
Because of the serious associated conditions, doctors recommend that people with cadiomyopathy always wear medical ID jewelry. The risk of blood clots for people with cardiomyopathy means many patients require blood thinners, such as Coumadin, to reduce their risk of stroke and pulmonary embolism. These medications have life-threatening bleeding risks associated with them, which makes them very important to list on your medical alert jewelry.
What Should I Engrave On My Cardiomyopathy Medical Alert Bracelet?
We always recommend engraving your medical alert jewelry with your full name, condition(s), allergies (or the fact that you have no known allergies, which you can abbreviate NKA or NKDA for No Known Allergies or No Known Drug Allergies), any medications, and at least one ICE (in case of emergency) phone number. For a more extensive medical history or changing medication list, we recommend carrying a wallet card as well, and referencing it on your medical ID tag. Here are some suggested engraving ideas:
ON COUMADIN - NKDA
ALGY ASPIRIN, PCN
SEE WALLET CARD
Do you wear a Lauren's Hope medical alert bracelet for your cardiomyopathy? We want to hear from you!