Five reasons why our heart muscles become weak

Cardiomyopathy is a condition in which the heart muscles become weak. In people with cardiomyopathy, the heart muscles become thicker and more rigid.

Myupchar September 28, 2019 08:00:15 IST
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Five reasons why our heart muscles become weak
  • Cardiomyopathy is a condition in which the heart muscles become weak

  • Things like a cardiac event and some medicines can change the heart muscles structurally, functionally or both - this can make these muscles weak

  • Cardiomyopathy can develop during one's lifetime (acquired cardiomyopathy), or it can be genetic (inherited cardiomyopathy)

The heart never sleeps. From the fourth week of pregnancy — when the foetus gets a heartbeat — until the day we die, it works nonstop. It can, however, become tired if we don’t take proper care of it. One of the ways this can happen is if the heart muscles become weak - a condition known as cardiomyopathy.

As we count down to World Heart Day on Sunday, let’s rewind a bit to what is cardiomyopathy.

Five reasons why our heart muscles become weak

Representational image. Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

What is cardiomyopathy

The wall of the heart is made up of three layers - the epicardium (outer layer), endocardium (inner layer), and the thick middle muscular layer called the myocardium.

Things like a cardiac event and some medicines can change the heart muscles structurally, functionally or both - this can make these muscles weak.

Typically, in people with cardiomyopathy, these muscles become thicker and more rigid. Rarely, bits of the heart muscle can get replaced by scar tissue.

Cardiomyopathy can develop during one's lifetime (acquired cardiomyopathy), or it can be genetic (inherited cardiomyopathy). There are at least four main types of cardiomyopathy. Of these, dilated cardiomyopathy affects five in 100,000 adults and 0.57 in 100,000 children, while hypertrophic cardiomyopathy — a leading cause of sudden death in athletes — affects one in 500 persons globally, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians.

Data show that in 2016, cardiomyopathy and myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) was the reason for 0.12% of all death and 0·11% disability-adjusted life years (DALY) in India. Cardiovascular diseases as a whole accounted for 28·1% of all deaths and 14.1% of DALY in India in the same year.

While we don’t have control over inherited cardiomyopathy, we can take preventive steps to avoid acquired cardiomyopathy. Before we can do that, however, we need to know what makes heart muscles weak.

Causes of cardiomyopathy

Here are the five most important reasons why the heart muscles become weak:

  • Uncontrolled or long-term heart diseases: High blood pressure can cause structural as well as functional abnormalities in the heart muscles over time. A heart attack also damages heart muscles. Long-standing rapid heart rate (tachycardia) and heart valve dysfunction are potential risk factors for altering heart function.
  • Metabolic disorders: A number of biochemical processes take place in the body. Disruptions in their normal functioning can cause metabolic disorders like diabetes, obesity and hypothyroidism. These conditions, in turn, may lead to cardiomyopathy in future, if they are not controlled.
  • Alcohol abuse: Alcohol abuse damages the liver, and it isn’t very kind to the heart either. High alcohol consumption raises the levels of triglycerides (fats in the blood). It can also lead to high blood pressure, heart failure and stroke, besides cardiomyopathy.
  • Some medicines: Unfortunately, every medicine comes with its own set of side-effects. Some of them, especially cancer drugs, are cardiotoxic — they may cause damage to the heart muscle — even when used appropriately. Discuss the side-effects of any drugs you have been prescribed with your doctor.
  • Some diseases: Certain diseases have a direct impact on heart structure and function. Sarcoidosis, for instance, causes several tiny lumps to grow in the heart muscles, while Amyloidosis leads to the accumulation of abnormal proteins in the heart muscles.

Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health. For more information, please read our article on Cardiomyopathy.

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