Dilated cardiomyopathy is a disease when the heart muscle is damaged. The consequence of this damage is enlarged heart.

The heart cannot efficiently pump blood without healthy muscle. In dilated cardiomyopathy, the heart muscle walls become damaged. The damaged muscle stretches, due to which the heart becomes larger. The weakened and enlarged heart muscle has poorer pumping function, which can lead to chronic heart failure.

Dilated cardiomyopathy is more frequent in men and people older than 45.



The symptoms of dilated cardiomyopathy are not obvious in cases of mild types of the disease. When they appear, usually the develop gradually, in a period of a few years, and these are:

  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Heart pounding
  • Swollen ankles

As the disease progresses, the heart pumps blood less and less, and symptoms like suffocation, may worsen.

In case of enlarged heart, the valves can stretch; in this case, they may start leaking blood and thus cause chronic heart failure or arrhythmia. In cases when the atrium and the ventricle cannot empty completely because they are too large, blood clots may form, which can get loose and thus block any blood vessel.



The cause of dilated cardiomyopathy is unknown. Here, a few causes can be mentioned thatweaken or dilate the left ventricle. These are:

  • alcohol abuse
  • autoimmune disease
  • viral infections
  • medications for cancer treatment
  • congenital heart defects
  • genetics
  • coronary artery disease
  • heart attack
  • high blood pressure
  • diabetes


Risk Factors

The factors that increase the risks for dilated cardiomyopathy are:

  • Alcohol abuse
  • heart attack
  • high blood pressure
  • medications for cancer treatment
  • viral infections
  • obesity
  • other conditions like: thyroid disease, diabetes, sarcoidosis, hemochromatosis
  • autoimmune diseases, like lupus
  • neuromuscular disorders
  • HIV infection



The complications of dilated cardiomyopathy are:

  • Arrhythmia
  • heart failure
  • heart valve regurgitation
  • blood clots
  • sudden cardiac arrest


Prevention of dilated cardiomyopathy is focused on leading a healthy lifestyle. This includes: healthy diet, healthy weight, physical exercises, no cigarettes, moderate use of alcohol, and proper rest. All of these measures can also be used to minimize the effects of this disease.