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Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jan 20, 2023.

What is cardiomyopathy?

Harvard Health Publishing

Cardiomyopathy refers to changes in the heart muscle. These changes prevent part or all of the heart from contracting normally.

There are three types of cardiomyopathy. The types are based on the physical changes that occur in the heart:



Symptoms of cardiomyopathy

The symptoms of cardiomyopathy vary by type.

Diagnosing cardiomyopathy

Your doctor will review your medical history.

He or she will ask about

Your doctor will examine you, paying special attention to your heart.

This will be followed by

You may also need other tests.

Expected duration of cardiomyopathy

Dilated cardiomyopathy sometimes can be reversed if it is caused by a treatable condition.

Most cases of hypertrophic and restrictive cardiomyopathy are persistent. They can get worse over time.

Preventing cardiomyopathy

The best way to prevent cardiomyopathy is to prevent the diseases that cause it.

Know your risk factors for coronary artery disease. Modify those risks early in life.

You can reduce your risk for coronary artery disease by

If you have any family members with inherited cardiomyopathy, contact your doctor for an evaluation.

Treating cardiomyopathy

The treatment of cardiomyopathy depends on its cause. Here are some of the more common treatments:

SGLT2 inhibitors are the newest class of drugs that improve outcome in people with cardiomyopathy, especially those with dilated cardiomyopathy.

For patients with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, blockage to the outflow of blood can sometimes be reduced. This is done by damaging part of the muscle between the two ventricles. This damage can be created at surgery or through a catheter.

A heart transplant may be necessary for patients whose poor heart function has become disabling or life threatening.

When to call a professional

Call your doctor whenever you have any of the following symptoms:

Call your doctor immediately if you have chest pain. Call even if you think that you are too young to be having heart problems.


The outlook varies. It depends on the specific cause and severity of the cardiomyopathy.

The survival rate of people with most types has improved dramatically in the past decade. This is due to the increased number of treatments available.

Additional info

American Heart Association (AHA)

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)

American College of Cardiology

Learn more about Cardiomyopathy

Treatment options

Care guides

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.