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Living With Cardiomyopathy

Some people who have cardiomyopathy—especially those who have hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM)—may live a healthy life with few problems or symptoms. Others may have serious symptoms and complications.

If you have cardiomyopathy, you can take steps to take care of your heart. Lifestyle changes and ongoing care can help you manage the disease.

Lifestyle Changes

A healthy diet and physical activity are part of a heart healthy lifestyle. Your doctor can help you decide what kind of eating plan is right for you. Talk with your doctor about the amounts and types of fluids that are safe and healthy for you. Too much fluid can worsen certain heart conditions.

Your doctor also may suggest a diet that's low in sodium (salt) and fat. (For more information about healthy eating, go to "How Is Cardiomyopathy Treated?")

Talk with your doctor about the amount and type of physical activity that's right for you. People who have HCM shouldn't do vigorous activity. However, moderate activity, such as walking, often is a good idea.

Your doctor also may suggest other lifestyle changes, such as:

Ongoing Care

If you have cardiomyopathy, it's important to get ongoing care. Call your doctor if you notice new or worsening symptoms, such as swelling in your ankles, feet, legs, abdomen, or veins in the neck. These symptoms may be a sign that the disease is getting worse.

You also should:

  • Take all of your medicines as your doctor prescribes.
  • Make all of the lifestyle changes that your doctor suggests.
  • Make sure you go to all of your medical checkups.
  • Follow your treatment plan for any underlying conditions, such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

Cardiomyopathy often runs in families. Your doctor may suggest that your parents, brothers and sisters, and children get checked to see whether they have the disease.

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Last Updated: January 1, 2011