“Cardiomyopathy” is a term meaning disease of the heart muscle. Typically, cardiomyopathy refers to a primary heart muscle disease resulting in heart dysfunction. Cardiomyopathy has more than one form, and the differences are in how the heart muscle is affected. Primary cardiomyopathy is generally due to an unknown cause, although it is thought to be genetic in a majority of cases. Just as in valvular dysfunction, all forms of cardiomyopathy can be treated to extend the animal’s life and increase quality of life. However, the disease is chronic and progressive, and cannot be “cured.”
There are also a number of “secondary” cardiomyopathies, meaning that an extracardiac disease causes heart muscle dysfunction. These include high blood pressure, hormonal imbalances, infections, arrhythmias, toxins, nutritional deficiencies, and infarction. It is important to differentiate primary from secondary cardiomyopathy, as many of these causes of cardiomyopathy can be treated (and sometimes cured) by resolving the cause of the heart muscle disease. Tests are available to identify possible causes of heart muscle disease, and may be performed by your veterinarian and/or veterinary cardiologist.
Click the links in the navigation bar on the left to learn more about prognosis, diagnosis, symptoms, and common treatment recommendations for hypertrophic, dilated, and restrictive cardiomyopathy.