What causes woman's heart problem?
Ask the Doctor
February 04. 2009
Q My 39-year-old daughter is having heart problems. The doctor says she has something called cardiomyopathy. She has weak spells and is always tired. Her doctor had her on a medication, but it caused her blood pressure to go too low, so he took her off it. He is now trying to find something else that may work for her.
Could you please explain what this disease is, what happens to the body, any treatment options and what the prognosis is? I only know that somehow the heart doesn't pump right.
A Cardiomyopathy is a condition that causes the heart muscle to weaken, leading to inadequate heart pumping and blood flow, as well as other problems, such as palpitations.
There are several types of cardiomyopathy. Each is associated with a different cause. Some of these types include alcoholic, dilated, ischemic, restrictive, toxic, infectious, idiopathic and more. Causes include alcoholism, heart attacks, viral infections, lupus
, celiac disease, long-term severe high blood pressure and many others.
Because you don't say what type your daughter has, I cannot give specific advice. However, I will briefly explain some general information including symptoms, treatment and prognosis.
Symptoms vary from person to person and from cause to cause. Some of the more common symptoms include fatigue, high blood pressure, palpitations, edema (swelling), cough (caused by fluid buildup in the lungs due to heart failure), shortness of breath and more.
If cardiomyopathy is suspected, a physician would likely order blood work to check for anemia and elevated cardiac enzymes, as well as imaging studies including a chest X-ray, echocardiogram, heart ultrasound and angiography.
Treatment often involves dietary and behavior modifications and medications.
Medications can include those to lower blood pressure, improve blood flow, reduce the workload of the heart while improving the heartbeat, relieve fluid buildup and slow the heart rate. What medications are given depend on which type of cardiomyopathy your daughter has.
The prognosis depends on the severity of the damage, the cause and the response to treatment.
Your daughter needs to be under the care of a cardiologist.
Write to Peter Gott, c/o United Media, 200 Madison Ave., Fourth Floor, New York, NY 10016.