Dilated Cardiomyopathy: Understanding the Enlarged Heart

Dilated Cardiomyopathy: Understanding the Enlarged Heart

Are you familiar with the term “Dilated Cardiomyopathy” (DCM)? It refers to a condition where the heart’s main pumping chamber, known as the left ventricle, becomes enlarged. As this chamber expands, its muscular wall weakens and thins, affecting the heart’s ability to efficiently pump enough oxygen-rich blood throughout the body.

But what’s the big deal about an enlarged heart, you may ask? Well, the consequences can be severe. Dilated cardiomyopathy not only leads to heart valve problems, arrhythmia, and blood clots, but it can also result in heart failure and even sudden cardiac death. It’s a condition that requires serious attention.

Signs and Symptoms of Dilated Cardiomyopathy

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of DCM is crucial. These indicators tend to worsen over time and may include chest pain, fatigue, palpitations, heart murmurs, difficulty breathing due to fluid buildup in the lungs, and swelling in the legs, ankles, and abdomen.

Diagnosing Dilated Cardiomyopathy

At Penn Medicine, a comprehensive diagnosis is conducted to uncover the underlying cause of DCM. This step is vital in determining the appropriate treatment strategy. The diagnostic process may involve a physical examination, blood tests, cardiac catheterization, coronary angiography, echocardiogram, electrocardiogram, electrophysiology study, genetic testing and counseling, Holter monitoring, and other imaging tests such as CT, MRI, nuclear heart scan, and MUGA scan.

Treatment Options for Dilated Cardiomyopathy

While there is no cure for DCM, treatment can help manage the condition and prevent further complications. The approach to treatment varies based on individual circumstances and symptoms. Medications play a critical role in managing DCM and may include aldosterone antagonists, ACE inhibitors or ARBs, anti-arrhythmia medications, beta blockers, blood thinners, diuretics, neprilysin inhibitors, and SLGT2 inhibitors.

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In some cases, surgery may be necessary to address underlying issues contributing to DCM. This could involve procedures like coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) or angioplasty, heart valve repair or replacement, the implantation of devices like pacemakers or implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs), ventricular assist devices, or even heart transplantation in advanced cases.

Trust the Experts at Penn Medicine

When it comes to dilated cardiomyopathy, you need a team of experts by your side. At Penn Medicine, specialists with extensive knowledge and experience in cardiomyopathy collaborate to develop a comprehensive treatment plan tailored to your specific needs. With expertise in arrhythmia, cardiovascular surgery, coronary artery disease, familial cardiomyopathy, heart failure, heart transplantation, heart valve disease treatment, inherited cardiac disease, interventional cardiology, and palliative care, the Penn network has you covered.

Don’t leave your heart health to chance. Choose the expertise of Penn Medicine for the best care possible.


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