The human heart must pump about 2,000 gallons of blood each day to keep the body alive. The heart provides the body with the blood needed for oxygen to reach every cell.
Unfortunately, the human heart is susceptible to diseases and ailments. Cardiomyopathy and heart failure are two diseases that can take a toll on one’s heart.
How are cardiomyopathy and heart failure different, you may ask? Well, we have got the answer to that question and more. Keep reading for the lowdown on cardiomyopathy vs heart failure.
What Is Cardiomyopathy?
Cardiomyopathy is a severe condition that affects the heart’s ability to pump blood effectively throughout the body. It is a general term for diseases that weaken and enlarge the heart muscle causing it to become stiff or thick. This can result in heart failure, stroke, abnormal heart rhythms, and other health complications.
The most common type of the cardiomyopathy is dilated cardiomyopathy. This is when the heart’s left, or right ventricle enlarges, and the heart muscle thickens.
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is another type in which the heart muscle becomes abnormally thick. Lastly, restrictive cardiomyopathy occurs when the heart’s walls become rigid and limit blood flow. Cardiomyopathy is a severe medical condition, but people can live healthy everyday lives with proper treatment and management.
What Is Heart Failure?
Heart failure, also known as congestive heart failure, is a condition that happens when the heart can no longer carry enough blood and oxygen to the body’s organs to meet its needs. This is usually the result of other underlying conditions.
The body may suffer from inadequate oxygen circulation, muscle wasting, and fluid buildup in the lungs and other organs. Heart failure can happen suddenly, called acute heart failure, or it can occur over time, called chronic heart failure.
Additionally, there are two types of heart failure. A weak ejection fraction causes systolic heart failure. Meanwhile, diastolic heart failure is caused by a stiff ventricle.
Key Differences Between Cardiomyopathy vs Heart Failure
Cardiomyopathy and heart failure affect how the heart works, but they are different. Knowing the main differences between the two can help you understand their unique qualities and effects.
Nature of the Condition
Cardiomyopathy is a disease that directly changes how the heart muscle (myocardium) looks or works. It mostly looks at what’s wrong with the heart muscle itself.
On the other hand, heart failure is a medical condition in which the heart can’t pump blood as well as it should, so the body doesn’t get enough blood. It is a situation in which the heart doesn’t work right, no matter what the cause or underlying condition is.
Cardiomyopathy can be caused by genes or inherited cardiomyopathy. However, it can also be acquired from high blood pressure, virus infections, drinking too much alcohol or drugs, or having certain medical conditions. The focus is on the specific factors that directly impact the heart muscle.
Coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, diseased heart valves, or past heart attacks can cause heart failure. It can also come from cardiomyopathy. The main focus is on the underlying problems that cause the heart to pump less well.
The signs can be different depending on what kind of cardiomyopathy you have and how far along it is. Some of the cardiomyopathy symptoms are:
- shortness of breath
- chest pain, heartbeat
- feeling lightheaded
- passing out
Some people with cardiomyopathy may not have any symptoms, especially in the early stages. Others, whose heart muscle failure is more severe, may have more noticeable symptoms.
Heart failure usually involves a group of symptoms including the same symptoms as cardiomyopathy, but with the addition of:
- fluid retention that causes swelling
- fast or irregular heartbeats
These symptoms get worse over time. Because of this, they can significantly affect a person’s daily life and quality of life.
A detailed medical history review and physical exam are used to diagnose cardiomyopathy. Tests like electrocardiogram (ECG), echocardiogram, cardiac MRI, genetic testing, and sometimes a heart muscle biopsy are all used to determine if someone has cardiomyopathy.
These diagnostic tools help doctors determine what is going on with cardiomyopathy by looking at its shape, function, and genetic factors. Heart failure is usually diagnosed through a mix of clinical evaluations similar to cardiomyopathy, with the addition of blood tests to measure biomarkers linked to heart failure.
Sometimes, cardiac catheterization is also done. These testing tools help determine what’s causing heart failure, how bad it is, and how it should be treated.
Cardiomyopathy can be treated by treating the underlying causes, relieving the symptoms, and avoiding or treating complications. It can involve changes to lifestyle like diet and exercise and taking medicine.
Implanting devices like pacemakers or defibrillators may be required for cardiomyopathy patients. In the worst cases, a heart transplant is also an option.
Treatment for heart failure is almost the same. However, surgery like repairing or replacing a heart valve might sometimes be needed for heart failure. This is different from a heart transplant.
Medication for both conditions usually includes ACE inhibitors, beta-blockers, diuretics, or ARNIs. This is a fairly new medication, so if you want to discover more about arni, it is best to research and consult a doctor.
Progression and Reversibility
Cardiomyopathy is often a long-lasting disease that gets worse over time. It changes how the heart muscle looks and works. In some cases, cardiomyopathy can’t be fixed and needs to be treated for a long time.
On the other hand, heart failure is often a long-term problem but there are times when it gets worse quickly and needs medical help right away. Heart failure may be reversible, or its progression may be slowed or stopped with the right medicine in some cases.
Differentiate These Heart Diseases
Cardiomyopathy and heart failure have some similarities but also differ in many ways. They are both severe heart conditions and should be monitored and treated by a physician. Knowing their differences is essential for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. If you have further questions or concerns about cardiomyopathy vs heart failure, consult your doctor.