Cardiomyopathy is a term that refers to any heart condition that weakens and enlarges the heart muscle. Cardiomyopathy makes it harder for your heart to pump blood to the rest of your body. It can lead to heart failure.

At Sentara, our goal is to treat your heart condition to relieve the symptoms and prevent future heart problems. We treat a wide range of cardiomyopathy, including:

  • Congenital heart disease, a heart condition or defect you are born with.
  • Septal defects. There are two types of septal defects:
    • A hole in the septum between the heart’s two upper chambers, atrial septal defect, or ASD
    • A hole in the septum between the heart’s two lower chambers, ventricular septal defect, or VSD
  • Heart valve disease, also called valvular heart disease, characterized by damage to or a defect in one of your heart valves. We offer specialized treatment for heart valve disease.
  • Symptoms

    In the early stages, you may not experience any symptoms. As cardiomyopathy progresses, however, you will probably start to experience them. Symptoms of cardiomyopathy include:

    • Shortness of breath, even at rest
    • Swelling of legs, ankles and feet (called edema)
    • Abdominal bloating
    • Fatigue
    • Irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias)
    • Dizziness and fainting
  • Diagnosis

    We will begin by asking you about your symptoms and medical and family history. Then we will perform a thorough physical examination. If your doctor suspects cardiomyopathy, he or she will probably order a number of diagnostic tests, including:

    • Chest X-ray
    • Echocardiogram, an ultrasound of your heart
    • Electrocardiogram (EKG), a noninvasive test to measure your heart’s electrical impulses
    • Cardiac catheterization
    • Cardiac MRI
    • Blood tests

    Learn more about cardiac imaging and diagnostic tests.

  • Cardiomyopathy treatment

    The goals for treatment are to relieve your symptoms and prevent your condition from worsening. Depending on your specific condition, your treatment plan may include:

    • Medication
    • Device implantation, including pacemaker or implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD)
    • Ventricular-assist devices (VADs)

    Learn more about cardiac interventional procedures and heart surgery.