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Ischemic cardiomyopathy (IC) occurs when your heart muscle becomes weakened. It can result from a heart attack or coronary artery disease. In coronary artery disease, the arteries that supply blood to your heart muscle become narrowed. This can keep blood from reaching portions of your heart muscle, causing damage. If you develop IC, the left ventricle in your heart will likely become enlarged, dilated, and weakened. This inhibits your heart’s ability to pump blood, which can lead to heart failure.
Your doctor’s prescribed treatment plan will depend on the underlying cause of your IC, as well as how much damage your heart has sustained. A combination of lifestyle changes, medications, surgery, or other procedures may be recommended. Healthy lifestyle choices can help lower your risk of complications and reduce your chances of developing IC in the first place.
It’s possible to have early-stage heart disease with no symptoms. If blood flow becomes impaired due to coronary artery disease, you may experience:
If you develop these symptoms, seek medical care immediately.
IC is typically caused by a heart attack or coronary artery disease. Risk factors for these conditions include:
You’re more likely to develop coronary artery disease if you’re a man, but after women reach menopause the gap between the two genders tends to close. If you’re a woman over the age of 35 who takes oral contraceptives and smokes, you’re also at high risk.
If your doctor suspects you have IC, expect to be refer you to a heart specialist, also known as a cardiologist. They will take your medical history and perform a physical examination, and likely order tests to develop their diagnosis.
For example, they may order:
Your doctor must first address the underlying cause of your IC in order to treat it. Most often the culprit is coronary artery disease. Doctors may recommend a combination of:
To help treat coronary artery disease and lower your risk of complications, eat a healthy diet that’s low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium. You’ll also be advised to exercise in a way that is safe for your condition. If you smoke your doctor will probably advise you to quit. Avoiding drugs and drinking less alcohol is also likely in order. Don’t approach these lifestyle changes as short-term fixes. Rather, commit to developing long-term healthy habits.
Your doctor may prescribe medications to help ease symptoms, prevent complications, and improve your heart function. Depending on your circumstances, they may prescribe:
Your doctor may also recommend surgery or other procedures. For example, they may recommend:
In very serious cases, your doctor may recommend coronary bypass surgery.. During this surgery, your surgeon will remove a portion of healthy blood vessel from another part of your body and reattach it near your blocked coronary artery. This allows blood to bypass the blocked artery, flowing through the new blood vessel instead.
If the damage to your heart is too great to repair, you may need a heart transplant.
If left untreated, IC can lead to blood clots, heart failure, and even death. It’s critical to treat the underlying cause of your IC to prevent complications.
Your long-term outlook will depend on several factors, including:
You’re more likely to develop complications if you:
Ask your doctor for more information about your condition, treatment plan, and outlook.
You can decrease your chances of developing heart disease in the first place by making smart lifestyle choices. For example:
By practicing heart-healthy habits, you can lower your risk of developing coronary artery disease, ischemic cardiomyopathy, and other cardiovascular conditions. If you’ve already developed heart disease, healthy lifestyle choices can help mitigate complications.
Written by: Ann Pietrangelo
Medically reviewed on: Aug 25, 2016: Debra Sullivan, PhD, MSN, CNE, COI
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