What is DCM?

Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM)

This is the most common form of cardiomyopathy and it affects about 6 per million children each year. Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) occurs when disease affected muscle fibers are enlarged or stretched (dilated) in one or more chambers of the heart. Usually, the enlargement begins in one of the two lower pumping chambers (left ventricle) and then proceeds to the heart’s upper chambers (atria) as the condition progresses. Eventually over time, all four of the heart’s chambers are affected as the heart tries to “compensate” its weakened condition and poor contraction by further stretching. A possible complication is when the valves (mitral or tricuspid) between the upper chambers (atrium) and lower chambers (ventricles) also enlarge. As the heart enlarges, it decreases its efficiency in pumping blood through the body. When the disease progresses to congestive heart failure, fluid can build up in the lungs, liver, abdomen and lower legs.

DCM is usually an acquired condition in adults but with children most cases are idiopathic (unknown cause). Of those acquired cases, the disease can be caused by acute myocarditis an inflammation of the heart muscle from a viral infection. Commonly caused by a group of viruses called Coxsackie B viruses, the body’s normal defense system (immune system) malfunctions, damaging heart tissues while attacking the invading virus. Other known causes are frequent use of certain drugs, excessive alcohol use, sensitivity to chemicals and toxins, infection due to HIV, build up of proteins in the heart muscle (amyloidosis), severe anemia or nutritional deficiencies and rare complications from pregnancy. Roughly 30% of cases are familial and genetic in nature.

For more info on DCM….follow link below

http://www.heartcenteronline.com/myheartdr/common/articles.cfm?ARTID=428

Information courtesy of CCF

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