Obesity can lead to many types of heart disease. The largest branch of the heart disease tree is called cardiomyopathy. In its simplest of meanings, it is the disease of the heart muscle – cardio refers to heart, myo refers to muscle, and pathy refers to disease. The heart muscle swells and does not work the way it should.
Primary cardiomyopathy does not have a specific root; it could be the cumulative effects of various causes such as drinking alcohol, smoking, high blood pressure, bad eating habits, or valve defects. Secondary cardiomyopathy does have specific causes, such as previously mentioned.
There are 2 main types of cardiomyopathy: Intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic means that the causes come from within the heart muscle itself; whereas extrinsic means the causes come from outside the heart muscle.
Intrinsic cardiomyopathy has four branches. An inflamed left ventricle that stops pumping blood properly is known as dilated cardiomyopathy. There is a genetic disorder that affects the thickness of the heart muscle which in turn affects the pumping of the blood. This is called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. When the right ventricle is affected by an electrical interruption that causes the muscle to turn in to scar tissue, it is called Arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy. Restrictive cardiomyopathy is when the walls of the heart become stiff and it cannot fill with blood the way it should.
Extrinsic cardiomyopathy can be divided into five branches. People that abuse alcohol can develop a thinning of the heart muscle resulting in the reduced efficiency of pumped blood known as alcoholic cardiomyopathy. Ischemic cardiomyopathy is when the sufferer has a history of congenital heart disease, angina, heart attacks, high blood pressure which is the result of the walls of the heart’s arteries thickening and almost closing off. Continued and uncontrolled high blood pressure can cause what is called hypertensive cardiomyopathy. Valvular cardiomyopathy is when there is something wrong with one of the heart’s valves, usually the mitral valve. Inflammatory cardiomyopathy is an inflammation of the heart itself as well as the surrounding tissue.
Cardiomyopathy is a serious heart condition that can be recognized by the following symptoms: feeling tired all the time, becoming breathless after light physical activity, not being able to do as much physically as you used to, swelling of the hands, feet, legs and sometimes stomach area, lightheadedness, chest pain, and fluttering of the heart (also known as arrhythmia). If you suffer from any of these symptoms, it is extremely important for you to seek out your doctor’s advice. They can recommend specific tests that can firmly diagnose whether you have cardiomyopathy or not.
Treatment can include changes to your lifestyle. Knowing is half the battle in this case. Once you know you have cardiomyopathy, then you can take steps to start eating right, exercising properly, reducing stress, sleeping properly, not smoking, and limiting alcohol consumption. There are also medications that can help in light to moderate cases. In severe cases, surgery is often the only answer. In the most extreme cases, a full heart transplant may be necessary.