Category: Blog

Cardiomyopathy: A Big Heart Is Not Always A Good Thing

by Cody Steel
 

Having a 'big heart' may be a great thing in metaphorical terms but in literal cases, it is a serious medical condition. Enlargement of the heart muscles is known as cardiomyopathy. Cardiomyopathy is actually a group of conditions that affect the ability of the heart muscles to pump blood.

The human heart consists of four chambers- two atria and two ventricles. The atria receive blood and the ventricles pump blood out of the heart. These chambers are made of a special type of muscle called cardiac muscle. Cardiomyopathy affects the size and shape of the heart muscles.

Cardiomyopathy can involve stiffening of the heart muscles, thickening of the muscles, or stretching of the cardiac muscles.

Types Of Cardiomyopathy

Cardiomyopathies are of four main types: dilated cardiomyopathy, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia, and restrictive cardiomyopathy.

Dilated Cardiomyopathy

This is a type of condition in which the heart muscles become thin and stretched which makes them weak and unable to pump blood adequately. This is the most common type of cardiomyopathy.

Thinning of the heart muscle causes enlargement of the heart. The weakness of the heart can lead to heart failure.

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy

This is a genetic form of cardiomyopathy in which there is thickening of the heart muscles which restricts the flow of blood through the heart and from the heart to the rest of the body. The thickening of the walls of the heart means that the heart can't hold as much blood as it should be able to.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy often goes undiagnosed but it is a leading cause of sudden cardiac arrest in young people.

Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia

In this type of cardiomyopathy, the cardiac muscle of the ventricles is replaced by fat and fibrous tissue. This is a rare form of cardiomyopathy.

Loss of cardiac muscle cells can lead to heart failure and abnormal heart rhythms. This type of cardiomyopathy is called by a mutation in the genes that control proteins that produce cardiac cells. This causes cell death of the cardiac muscle cells and the dead cells are replaced by fibrous tissue and fat.

Restrictive Cardiomyopathy

In restrictive cardiomyopathy, the walls of the ventricles stiffen and are unable to relax. This affects the pumping of blood out of the heart. It is the least common form of cardiomyopathy.

The cause is unknown but it can be caused by scarring after a heart transplant or it may be an inherited condition.

Other types of cardiomyopathy include stress cardiomyopathy, secondary cardiomyopathy, and ischemic cardiomyopathy.

Symptoms Of Cardiomyopathy

Since cardiomyopathy affects the pumping functions of the heart, it can give rise to the following symptoms:

Symptoms Of Cardiomyopathy
  • Breathlessness
  • Fatigue
  • Abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmia)
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness and fainting
  • Low exercise tolerance
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Swelling of the extremities especially the feet and legs
  • Fluid accumulation in the abdomen
  • Persistent coughing, especially while lying down
Treatment Of Cardiomyopathy Prior to initiation of treatment, an accurate diagnosis of cardiomyopathy is required. Diagnosis of cardiomyopathy involves a thorough physical exam, electrocardiography (ECG), blood test, genetic testing, and echocardiography.

Treatment of cardiomyopathy can include the following approaches:

Lifestyle changes such as a low salt diet, not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, and limiting alcohol intake.

Medications to treat high blood pressure, swelling and fluid retention, chest pain, abnormal heart rhythms, and medications to manage heart failure.

Surgical procedures to remove the thickened heart muscle

Implantation of a pacemaker

Heart transplant (in severe cases)

Implantation of an internal defibrillator

Who Is At Risk For Cardiomyopathy?

Family history and genetic factors are one of the biggest predators for development of cardiomyopathy. Other factors that put a person at risk for cardiomyopathy are:

  • Severe obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Alcohol dependence
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Chronic hypertension
  • Heart attack
  • HIV/AIDS
 

Cardiomyopathy can be life-threatening but it often goes undiagnosed. Being aware of your family history regarding cardiac conditions as well as regular heart check-ups can help to detect this condition and initiate treatment if needed.

How to Protect Yourself From Allergies

by Cody Steel
 

Allergy free home

Modern living conditions are the main cause for allergy increase. People tend to spend more time indoors due to their lifestyle. Yes, we leave in cleaner homes but do we live in a cleaner environment?

Keep rooms dry

Use an exhaust fan in bathrooms, laundry rooms after every use to reduce mold. Keep a dehumidifier in the basement and remember to clean and empty it as it collects all the moisture. Check frequently the areas where moisture and mold develops, under the sinks, leaky faucets or pipes, even your fish tank. Once a week wipe dry around the sink, bathtub and toilet, use a plastic shower curtain that can be washed as often as needed. Keep the bathroom door open or open slightly a window. Rooms must be kept dry and Do not overwater your indoor plants.

Pets

It is not your cat or dog you are allergic to, but to proteins found in the animal's fur, saliva dander and urine. So keep your loving pet away from your bedroom or even better outdoors if that is possible. Have your pet groomed everyday preferably outside. Use a damp pet brush or comb to trap dander.

Furniture

Be careful of what you bring into the house. Non-washable curtains, upholstered furniture and wall-to-wall carpeting are all collectors of dust mites and mold. You may want to consider hardwood floors or tiles as they do not collect dander, a washable curtain or shades or just keep your windows bare.

Clutter and collectibles

Books, newspapers all household items attract dust. To avoid allergens in your home, dust surfaces as often as needed. Recycle newspapers, magazines, cans and plastics once a week. If you need to store any items use plastic bins or bags.

Children's room

Protect from allergies

Soft toys accumulate dust mites more than you can possibly imagine. You cannot see them but they are there. Since children love them or having them in their room not to mention on their bed, you should buy stuffed toys that can be machine-washed and pave in the dryer.

Bedrooms

Tiny bugs nestle in your mattress and pillows, dust mites, thrive on humid atmosphere. So, use dust proof casing for your pillows and mattress, microfiber ones are preferred. Wash your sheets once a week in high temperature and place them in the dryer. Avoid fluffing your pillows and bed covers.

Kitchen area

Check your fridge for moisture, wipe the door clean with a damp cloth and occasionally check the drip pans, make sure they are dry to avoid mildew.

To reduce moisture install an exhaust fan over the stove for the cooking fumes.

Vacuuming

Vacuuming, dusting or sweeping stir up dust mites and it takes some time before they settle. You certainly do not want to breathe them. Use a vacuum cleaner with HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air filter) and remember to change it when necessary depending on its use.

Protect yourself and family from allergies. Keep your home clean, dry, and well ventilated.