What Causes Cardiomyopathy?

  • In many cases of cardiomyopathy, the cause is unknown.
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy appears to run in families.
  • Viral infections of the heart cause inflammation of the heart muscle (myocarditis) and may result in permanent damage to the muscle.
  • Excess consumption of alcohol may be toxic to the heart muscle over time.
  • Nutritional deficiencies (such as lack of thiamine) and hormone imbalances may damage and weaken the heart muscle.
  • Amyloidosis, a disorder in which the walls of the heart are infiltrated by a waxy substance, may cause restrictive cardiomyopathy.
  • The risk of developing cardiomyopathy increases with smoking, obesity, or hypertension.
  • Advanced coronary artery disease may be a cause.

Symptoms of Cardiomyopathy

Often there are no symptoms until the disease’s advanced stages. These may include the following:

  • Shortness of breath, especially during exertion
  • Swelling of the feet, ankles, or hands (edema)
  • Fatigue
  • Palpitations
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting
  • Wheezing and a dry cough, or a cough producing foamy, bloody phlegm
  • Chest pain (may be mild)
  • Stroke or painful and cold extremity due to a blood clot blocking a blood vessel
  • Difficulty breathing, especially while lying down
  • Abdominal bloating


Johns Hopkins Symptoms and Remedies: The Complete Home Medical Reference

Simeon Margolis, M.D., Ph.D., Medical Editor

Prepared by the Editors of The Johns Hopkins Medical Letter: Health After 50

Updated by Remedy Health Media

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at Healthcommunities.com

Published: 13 Oct 2011

Last Modified: 04 Nov 2014