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Cardiomyopathy is a disease of the heart muscle that affects more men than women. The word cardiomyopathy derives from cardio meaning heart, myo meaning muscle and pathy meaning disease. There are 3 types:

1. Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). This is the most common form. In dilated cardiomyopathy one or more of the heart chambers become enlarged. This causes the heart to become larger and the heart muscle weaker. The ability of the heart chambers to pump blood is diminished and less forceful. One in five cases of dilated cadiomyopathy are thought to have been inherited.

Symptoms of Dilated Cardiomyopathy
Some people do not experience any symptoms until their cardiomyopathy is well advanced. Typical symptoms are tiredness, shortness of breath, swollen ankles and abdomen, heart palpitations and dizziness and fainting during physical activity.

Some Causes of Dilated Cardiomyopathy
Following a viral or other infection of the heart. Heart tissue damage from a previous heart attack. High blood pressure. Heart valve problems. Chronic rapid heart rate. Drug and alcohol abuse. Metabolic disorders such as thyroid disease or diabetes
Vitamin and mineral deficiencies, such as thiamin (vitamin B-1), selenium, calcium and magnesium. Use of some chemotherapeutic drugs to treat cancer.

2. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). This is also known as hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy.
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy occurs mostly in people between the ages of 20-40 years of age. In hypertrophic cardiomyopathy the muscular walls of the heart become thickened. This prevents the heart from filling up with blood properly and blocks the blood from being pumped from the heart. Roughly half the people with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy have a family history of the disease.

Signs and symptoms
Shortness of breath, chest pains and palpitations. Those affected may often faint. Signs and symptoms tend to progress over time unless treated. Sudden death is sometimes the first indication that hypertrophic cardiomyopathy was present.

3. Restrictive cardiomyopathy is a rare form of the disease. It is caused by a stiffening of the heart muscles so that it is less elastic. This interferes with the hearts ability to expand and fill the ventricles with blood.

Restrictive cardiomyopathy can occur at any age but is more common in older people. Causes are mostly unknown. It may result from abnormal proteins or cell products being deposited in the heart (amyloidosis). Restrictive cardiomyopathy is most common in the tropics, where it is often due to scarring (fibrosis) of the heart muscle and occurs for no apparent reason.

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