Cardiomyopathy is a disease of the heart
muscle. The heart loses its ability to pump blood and, in some
instances, heart rhythm is disturbed, leading to irregular heartbeats,
or arrhythmias. Usually, the exact cause of the muscle damage is never
Cardiomyopathy differs from many other
heart disorders in a couple of ways. First, the types not related to
coronary atherosclerosis are fairly uncommon. Cardiomyopathy affects
about 50,000 Americans. However, the condition is a leading reason for
Second, unlike many other forms of
heart disease that affect middle-aged and older persons, certain types
of cardiomopathies can, and often do, occur in the young. The
condition tends to be progressive and sometimes worsens fairly
There are various types of
cardiomyopathy, but they fall into two major categories: "ischemic"
and "nonischemic" cardiomyopathy.