Dr. Alrich L. Gray // Central Montana Heart & Vascular Institute


Cardiomyopathy is a disease of the heart muscle that reduces how much blood the heart can pump to the rest of the body.

In dilated cardiomyopathy, the heart muscle is weakened and stretched, causing the heart’s chambers to get larger. More blood stays in the enlarged chambers of the heart and the heart muscle is not strong enough to pump a lot of blood around the body.

In hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, the heart muscle becomes too thick. The heart can no longer contract effectively to pump blood around the body.

Restrictive cardiomyopathy occurs when the heart muscle becomes too stiff to relax. This means that the heart’s chambers will not be able to fill with blood.

All types of cardiomyopathy have similar symptoms, including:

  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Shortness of breath, at rest or with exertion
  • Lightheadedness, dizziness, and fainting
  • Chest pain
  • Heart palpitations
  • High blood pressure
  • Swelling of your feet, ankles, and legs

Your doctor may prescribe you medications to help your heart pump blood more effectively and reduce the workload on your heart. These medications may reduce your blood pressure, prevent blood clots, reduce inflammation, and prevent water retention. Your doctor may also implant a pacing device into your chest to help it beat regularly, including a pacemaker or an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD).