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Home > Wellness > Health Library > Restrictive Cardiomyopathy
cardiomyopathy is a serious problem that makes your heart muscle stiff. When
your heart muscle is stiff, it can't stretch to allow enough blood to enter its
lower chambers, the
ventricles. So blood that would normally enter the
heart backs up in your circulatory system.
Most of the time, this
heart failure. Heart failure doesn't mean that your
heart stops pumping. It means that your heart can't pump enough blood to meet
your body's needs.
cause is never found. But we do know that there are a number of diseases or
problems that can lead to restrictive cardiomyopathy. These include:
You may not have any
symptoms at first. Or you may have mild symptoms, such as feeling very tired or
If your heart gets weaker, you will develop heart failure.
When this happens, you will feel other symptoms, including:
Heart failure that suddenly gets worse is an emergency. Get
medical help right away if:
When you have heart failure, keeping track of your symptoms every day is important. Call your doctor if:
doctor will ask questions about your symptoms and past health. He or she will
want to know about recent illnesses and about heart disease in your family.
Your doctor will listen to your heart and lungs and check your legs for fluid
You may also have other tests, including:
In some cases, a doctor may want to look at a small
sample of heart tissue, called a
biopsy, to make a definite diagnosis.
Most of the time, treatment focuses on relieving symptoms, improving heart function, and helping you live longer. You may also have other treatment for the problem that is causing restrictive cardiomyopathy, such as medicines to get rid of too much iron in the heart muscle (hemochromatosis).
You will probably need to take
several medicines to treat heart failure caused by restrictive cardiomyopathy.
It's important to take your medicines exactly as your doctor tells you to
and to keep taking them. If you don't, your heart failure could get worse.
Your doctor may suggest a mechanical device to help your
heart pump blood or prevent life-threatening irregular heart rhythms. Such
devices include a
an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD), or a combination pacemaker and ICD. If your
condition is very bad, a heart transplant may be an option.
Self-care is an important part of your treatment. Self-care includes the things you can do every day to feel better, stay healthy, and avoid the hospital.
Most of the time, restrictive cardiomyopathy leads to heart failure.
Heart failure usually gets worse over time. But treatment can slow the disease
and help you feel better and live longer. If your doctor finds the cause of
your restrictive cardiomyopathy, then the cause will also be treated, if
Some people develop other problems, including:
If your disease is getting worse, you may want
to think about making end-of-life decisions. It can be comforting to know that
you will get the type of care you want.
Health Tools help you make wise health decisions or take action to improve your health.
Learning about restrictive cardiomyopathy:
Living with restrictive cardiomyopathy:
Visit the American Heart Association (AHA) website for information on
physical activity, diet, and various heart-related conditions. You can search for information on heart disease and stroke, share information with friends and family, and use tools to help you make heart-healthy goals and plans. Contact the AHA to find your
nearest local or state AHA group. The AHA provides brochures and information
about support groups and community programs, including Mended Hearts, a
nationwide organization whose members visit people with heart problems and
provide information and support.
The Heart Rhythm Society provides information for
patients and the public about heart rhythm problems. The website includes a
section that focuses on patient information. This information includes causes,
prevention, tests, treatment, and patient stories about heart rhythm problems.
You can use the Find a Specialist section of the website to search for a heart
rhythm specialist practicing in your area.
The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
(NHLBI) information center offers information and publications about preventing
This website for older adults offers aging-related
health information. The website's senior-friendly features include large
print, simple navigation, and short, easy-to-read segments of information. A
visitor to this website can click special buttons to hear the text aloud, make
the text larger, or turn on higher contrast for easier viewing.
site was developed by the National Institute on Aging and the National
Library of Medicine, both part of the National Institutes of Health
(NIH). NIHSeniorHealth features up-to-date health information from NIH. Also,
the American Geriatrics Society provides independent review of some of the
material found on this website.
Other Works Consulted
Hare JM (2012). The dilated, restrictive, and infiltrative cardiomyopathies. In RO Bonow et al., eds., Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine, 9th ed., vol. 2, pp.1561–1581. Philadelphia: Saunders.
Hoit BD, Gupta S (2011). Restrictive, obliterative, and infiltrative cardiomyopathies. In V Fuster et al., eds., Hurst's the Heart, 13th ed., vol. 1, pp. 865–875. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Hunt SA, et al. (2009). 2009 focused update incorporated into the ACC/AHA 2005 guidelines for the diagnosis and management of heart failure in adults. Circulation, 119(14): e391–e479.
July 24, 2012
Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology & Robert A. Kloner, MD, PhD - Cardiology
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