If cardiomyopathy is suspected, the diagnosis is based on a person's:
The physical exam will identify a number of findings in patients with cardiomyopathy. The doctor will use a stethoscope to listen to the person's heart and lungs for sounds that may suggest the presence of cardiomyopathy. These sounds may even indicate a certain type of cardiomyopathy. For example, the loudness, timing, and location of a heart murmur may suggest that a person has hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy. A "crackling" sound in the lungs may be a sign of heart failure, which often develops in the later stages of cardiomyopathy.
Physical signs also help the doctor diagnose cardiomyopathy. Swelling of the abdomen, legs, or feet may indicate excess fluid, which is a sign of heart failure.
Sometimes, doctors discover cardiomyopathy during a routine exam if they hear a heart murmur or if the patient has an abnormal electrocardiogram (see Diagnostic Tests and Procedures below).
Often a cardiologist or pediatric cardiologist is involved in the care of a patient with cardiomyopathy. A cardiologist is a doctor who specializes in heart diseases. A pediatric cardiologist specializes in children's heart diseases.
Doctors may order one or more tests to diagnose cardiomyopathy, including:
The doctor may order additional tests to confirm the diagnosis or if surgery is planned. These tests may include:
Because some types of cardiomyopathy run in families, the doctor may recommend looking for the disease in the parents, brothers and sisters, and children of people with cardiomyopathy.
Genetic counseling may be recommended. Genetic counseling is useful to help define and explain how the disease runs in families and to determine the chances of parents passing it on to their children.
Author/Source: National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute, Division of the National Institutes of Health [NIH]
Retrieved: June 2008