Is your heart muscle healthy?

Is your heart muscle healthy?

Every hour, your heart muscle pumps approximately 83 gallons of blood through your body. This process brings oxygen-rich blood and nutrients to all parts of your body and takes away carbon-dioxide and waste products.

If you have cardiomyopathy, a disease of the heart muscle, it’s significantly harder for this key muscle to do its job. Dr. Maciej Krzysztof Malinski, an interventional cardiologist at Advocate Health Care, explains what you should know about this heart condition.

“There may not be any signs of cardiomyopathy in the early stages, but the most common symptom is shortness of breath,” says Dr. Malinski. “Other symptoms include swelling of the legs, fatigue, dizziness and chest discomfort.”

It’s important to make an appointment with your doctor if you’re noticing shortness of breath or other symptoms that you haven’t experienced before. A cardiologist can analyze your symptoms and conduct an echocardiogram, an ultrasound of the heart, to determine if you have cardiomyopathy or another heart issue.

There are two main types of cardiomyopathy, dilated and hypertrophic:

  • Dilated cardiomyopathy causes the chambers in the heart muscle to grow larger which prevents the heart muscle from contracting normally.
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy occurs when the heart muscle thickens and becomes stiff making it harder for the heart muscle to pump blood.

“Typically, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is caused by a genetic disorder,” explains Dr. Malinski. “Family history is very important. If an immediate relative has cardiomyopathy, you should tell your doctor so they can proactively monitor for this condition.”

Treatment can help address your symptoms, prevent the cardiomyopathy from worsening and decrease complications. A common option is to take a medication that can help improve the heart muscle’s ability to pump blood. Your cardiologist may recommend a surgical option, such as implanting a defibrillator and pacemaker device, to help improve the heart muscle’s performance and alleviate symptoms.

When it comes to heart health, don’t wait to start making healthy choices.

“While you can’t change your genetics, you can focus on lifestyle changes,” shares Dr. Malinski. “Focus on eating a healthy diet, exercising, getting adequate sleep, reducing stress and managing conditions such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes.”

Want to learn more about your risk for heart disease? Take a free online quiz to learn more.

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One Comment

  1. Very informative

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About the Author

Elizabeth Blasko
Elizabeth Blasko

Elizabeth Blasko is a public affairs coordinator with Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. She studied public relations and nonprofit leadership at Western Michigan University. Elizabeth previously worked at Bernie's Book Bank, a nonprofit dedicated to increasing book ownership among underserved children.