Diseases of heart muscle are classified under the medical term cardiomyopathy. From the Greek words, ‘pathos’ meaning suffering, ‘myo’ indicating muscles and cardio for heart, the word is coined. Prolonged usage of steroids can lead to this heart condition. There are many causes, pathological and physiological that are associated with the onset of cardiomyopathy; however, the condition of the heart muscles get can worsen with prolonged steroid usage.
In cardiomyopathy, the heart muscles get thick and rigid; the end result is that the heart enlarges and the pumping of the heart slows down. This condition can progress to the point where the patient suffers from congestive heart failure and pulmonary edema. There is no cure for cardiomyopathy; death usually occurs from the complications associated with the condition, such as CHF and kidney failure. Kidney and other organ failures occur when the heart cannot adequately pump enough blood to serve the organ systems of the body.
Though the classifications of cardiomyopathy vary from one specialist to another, cardiomyopathy is usually associated with multiple organ failures due to high blood pressure and diseases of the blood vessels. Cardiomyopathy can also be caused by congenital heart defects and viral infections. Some doctors classify the disease into four types; they are dilated, hypertrophy, restrictive and arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia (ARVD). There are some medical doctors who consider ARVD disease as a separate form of cardiomyopathy.
Dilated cardiomyopathy is the most common type of the disease, where the heart cavity gets enlarged and dilated. The enlargement of the heart causes the muscles to become so weak that the heart can’t pump properly, which often results in sudden heart failure. Because of the dilated condition, the flow of blood in the blood-vessels slows down, resulting in a thrombus, or clot-formation. These clots clog the circulation and can result in a fatal stroke, paralysis, kidney failure and other serious organ failures. Dilated cardiomyopathy can be treated with anticoagulant drugs. Medications will likely be prescribed to treat any irregularities of the heart rhythm (arrhythmia). Other medications may be given to regulate the electrical impulses of the heart.
In the next form of cardiomyopathy, some or most parts of the heart muscle enlarge. The enlargement is called hypertrophy in medical terms. The hypertrophy might occur in the septum, (the wall that separates the chambers), resulting in obstructing the clear and smooth flow of blood within the heart. Medically, there are many names attributed to this disease condition. Along with the obstructive damage, due to the pressure of enlargement, there might be leaking within heart from the valves of the heart. The leaking within the heart can cause impurities to leak into circulation which can also weaken the heart valves. These leaks could be heard as murmurs in the heart-sounds. Due to impure blood circulation, there will be symptoms of breathless feeling, as less amount of oxygen is available in the blood. Dizziness, weakness and lowered resistance can be associated with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
Restrictive Cardiomyopathy results because of rigid muscles of the heart. Because of the hardness and rigidity of the muscles, there will be less circulation of blood in the body, and there will be a continuous nagging feeling of restlessness and weakness. There also may be a feeling of heaviness in the chest. A person may lose consciousness on slight exertion. This form of cardiomyopathy is not as common. It is usually precipitated by a viral infection. With any type of cardiomyopathy it is important to make lifestyle changes with diet and healthy habits. You may be able to avoid the onset of cardiomyopathy by making healthy lifestyle changes before you ever have symptoms of illness.