Cardiomyopathy Causes and Risk Factors

What causes cardiomyopathy?

Cardiomyopathy can be inherited or acquired.

  • "Inherited" means that your parents passed the gene for the disease on to you. Mutations, or changes in the genes that control how your heart is formed, can cause your heart not to develop properly. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathy are often inherited types of the disease.
  • "Acquired" means that you weren't born with the disease, but you developed it due to another disease or condition. Conditions that damage your heart can lead to cardiomyopathy.

Cardiomyopathy may also be a symptom of another condition. Many times, the cause is not known.

What raises the risk of cardiomyopathy?

Cardiomyopathy can develop in people of all ages, races, and ethnicities. Sometimes, other medical conditions or lifestyle habits can raise your risk of cardiomyopathy.

Risk factors you can control

  • Drinking a lot of alcohol regularly (more than 2 drinks per day for men or 1 drink per day for women)
  • Using cocaine or amphetamines
  • Very stressful situations, which can raise your risk of takotsubo cardiomyopathy, also called broken heart syndrome, especially if you have other risk factors

Risk factors you can’t control

  • Age: Some types of cardiomyopathy are more common in certain age groups.
    • Arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathy is more common in teens and young adults.
    • Dilated cardiomyopathy is more common in adults between 20 and 60 years old.
    • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is more common in people in their 30s.
    • Takotsubo cardiomyopathy is more common in women after menopause.
  • Family history of cardiomyopathy or other heart conditions
  • Chemotherapy or radiation treatment for cancer
  • Other medical conditions:

Can you prevent cardiomyopathy?

You may be able to prevent acquired cardiomyopathy or help lower your risk of problems.

  • Make heart-healthy lifestyle changes, such as choosing heart-healthy foods, being physically active, aiming for a healthy weight, quitting smoking, and managing stress. Also, do not drink too much alcohol, and avoid illegal drugs such as cocaine.
  • Get treatment for medical conditions that can cause cardiomyopathy or make your condition worse.

There is no way to prevent inherited cardiomyopathy. However, you can take steps to prevent it from getting worse and to prevent serious health problems.

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