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Ischemic cardiomyopathy

Contents of this page:

Alternative Names   

Ischemic heart disease; Cardiomyopathy - ischemic

Definition    Return to top

Ischemic cardiomyopathy is a term that doctors use to describe patients who have congestive heart failure due to coronary artery disease.

"Ischemic" means that an organ (such as the heart) is not getting enough blood and oxygen. "Cardio" means heart and "myopathy" means muscle-related disease.

See also:

Causes    Return to top

Ischemic cardiomyopathy results when the arteries that bring blood and oxygen to the heart are blocked. There may be a buildup of cholesterol and other substances, called plaque, in the arteries that bring oxygen to heart muscle tissue. Over time, the heart muscle does not work well, and it is more difficult for the heart to fill and release blood.

Ischemic cardiomyopathy is a common cause of congestive heart failure. Patients with this condition may at one time have had a heart attack, angina, or unstable angina. A few patients may not have noticed any previous symptoms.

Ischemic cardiomyopathy is the most common type of cardiomyopathy in the United States. It affects approximately 1 out of 100 people, most often middle-aged to elderly men.

Risks for this condition include:

Symptoms    Return to top

Patients with ischemic cardiomyopathy usually have symptoms of angina and heart failure.

Symptoms of angina include:

Symptoms of heart failure usually develop slowly over time. However, sometimes symptoms start very suddenly and are severe. Common symptoms include:

Exams and Tests    Return to top

The physical examination may be normal, or it may reveal signs of fluid buildup:

There may be other signs of heart failure.

This condition is usually diagnosed only if a test shows that the pumping function of the heart is too low. This is called a decreased ejection fraction. A normal ejection fraction is around 55 - 65%. Most patients with this disorder have ejection fractions much less than this.

Tests used to measure ejection fraction include:

Biopsy of the heart is needed in rare cases to rule out other disorders.

Lab tests that may be used to rule out other disorders and assess the condition of the heart include:

Treatment    Return to top

The goal of treatment is to relieve symptoms and treat the cause of the condition. If symptoms are severe, you may need to stay in the hospital.

A cardiac catheterization will be done to see if you can have bypass surgery or a balloon procedure (angioplasty). These treatments can improve blood flow to the damaged or weakened heart muscle.

The overall treatment of cardiomyopathies is focused on treating heart failure.

See also: Heart failure

Drugs and treatments that may be used include:

Some people may benefit from the following heart devices:

A low-salt diet may be prescribed for adults. Fluid may be restricted in some cases. You can usually continue your regular activities, if you are able.

If you smoke or drink alcohol excessively, stop doing so. These habits increase stress on the heart.

You may be asked to monitor your body weight daily. Weight gain of 3 or more pounds over 1 or 2 days may indicate fluid buildup (in adults).

A heart transplant may be recommended for patients who have failed all the standard treatments and still have very severe symptoms. Recently, implantable, artificial heart pumps have been developed. However, very few patients are able to undergo either of these advanced treatments.

Outlook (Prognosis)    Return to top

This is a very serious disorder. It is a chronic illness that usually gets worse over time. Infection and other stress on your body from other medical illnesses will also cause symptoms to get worse.

It is very important to discuss your situation with your doctor to ensure that you can improve it as much as possible. You can control symptoms of heart failure and angina with medication, lifestyle changes, and by treating any underlying disorder.

Possible Complications    Return to top

When to Contact a Medical Professional    Return to top

Go to the emergency room or call 911 if:

Prevention    Return to top

The best way to prevent ischemic cardiomyopathy is to avoid getting heart disease.

References    Return to top

Hunt SA, Abraham WT, Chin MH, et al. ACC/AHA 2005 Guidelines Update for the Diagnosis and Management of Chronic Heart Failure in the Adult: a report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines (Writing Committee to Update the 2001 Guidelines for the Evaluation and Management of Heart Failure): developed in collaboration with the American College of Chest Physicians and the International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation: endorsed by the Heart Rhythm Society. Circulation. 2005;112:e154-e235.

Dickstein K, Cohen-Solal A, Filippatos G, et al. ESC Guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of acute and chronic heart failure 2008: the Task Force for the Diagnosis and Treatment of Acute and Chronic Heart Failure 2008 of the European Society of Cardiology. Developed in collaboration with the Heart Failure Association of the ESC (HFA) and endorsed by the European Society of Intensive Care Medicine (ESICM). Eur Heart J. 2008;29:2388-2442.

Hare JM. The dilated, restrictive, and infiltrative cardiomyopathies. In: Zipes DP, Libby P, Bonow RO, Braunwald E, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa; Saunders Elsevier;2007:chap 64.

Update Date: 4/23/2009

Updated by: Alan Berger, MD, Assistant Profesor, Division of Cardiology and Epidemiology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

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