Causes of Restrictive Cardiomyopathy
Restrictive cardiomyopathy is the least common form of cardiomyopathy. One known cause is Amyloidosis, a condition sometimes associated with cancers of the blood. Proteins from certain blood cells get deposited in the heart tissue, making the tissue stiff and thickened. Another known cause is hemochromatosis, an inherited disorder that results in excessive iron buildup in the body. Sarcoidosis, a disease in which inflammation occurs in lymph nodes, lungs, liver, eyes, skin, and other tissues also may lead to restrictive cardiomyopathy. In other cases, diseases create deposits that can make the heart walls thick and stiff.
Symptoms of Restrictive Cardiomyopathy
Symptoms are similar to those of congestive heart failure: weakness, fatigue, and breathlessness. Swelling (edema) of the legs occurs in many patients. Other symptoms may include nausea, bloating, and poor appetite, these symptoms most likely result from the retention of fluid around the liver, stomach, and intestines. Arrhythmia and heart block are also common in patients with restrictive cardiomyopathy.
Diagnosis of Restrictive Cardiomyopathy
Restrictive cardiomyopathy needs to be diagnosed accurately because it can be mistaken for constrictive pericarditis, a condition where the membrane surrounding the heart (the pericardium) becomes inflamed and thickened. Surgery can frequently correct constrictive pericarditis. On the other hand, restrictive cardiomyopathy cannot be corrected surgically. Instead, attention is directed toward controlling its symptoms.
- Echocardiography can be used to detail the dimensions of the heart and the degree of muscle damage.
- Computed Tomography (CT) scanning provides cross–sectional images of the heart that can be used to detail how the heart has been functioning.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) can provide detailed pictures of the heart and its various structures.
- A biopsy of tissue from the wall of the heart may help determine how seriously the heart has been damaged, or what process may be have caused the cellular damage.
- Cardiac catheterization, which can reveal movement and force of blood through the heart (hemodynamic analysis).
Restrictive cardiomyopathy generally cannot be reversed. Medical experts currently have no means of repairing severely damaged heart muscle. Therefore, treatment is confined to controlling its symptoms. Drugs are sometimes used to lessen the heart’s workload and to regulate the heart’s rhythm. When the condition becomes severe, a heart transplant may be necessary.