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Congestive Cardiomyopathy

Overview :

About 50,000 Americans develop cardiomyopathy each year. Of those, 87% have congestive cardiomyopathy. Primary cardiomyopathy accounts for only 1% of all deaths from heart disease.

When the heart muscle is damaged by a disease process, it cannot pump enough blood to meet the body's needs. Uninjured areas of the walls of the two lower heart chambers (called ventricles) stretch to make up for the lost pumping action. At first, the enlarged chambers allow more blood to be pumped with less force. The stretched muscle can also contract more forcefully. Over time, the heart muscle continues to stretch, ultimately becoming weaker. The heart is forced to work harder to pump blood by beating faster. Eventually it cannot keep up, and blood backs up into the veins, legs, and lungs. When this happens, the condition is called congestive heart failure.

Congestive cardiomyopathy usually affects both ventricles. Blood backed up into the lungs from the left ventricle causes fluid to congest the lung tissue. This is called pulmonary edema. When the right ventricle fails to pump enough blood, blood backs up into the veins causing edema in the legs, feet, ankles, and abdomen.

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