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Cardiomyopathy caused by virus

  If the Cardiomyopathy is caused by a virus how long is this virus usually active
  in your system?  I learned that I had Cardiomyopathy in May 98 and feel that I
  have not improved.  At times I still run a low grade fever (101).  Could the virus
  still be active?  Does the virus flare up at certain times?  I am on meds for
  slowing down the heart & etc...is there any kind of med that can be taken to help
  fight the virus or to make the virus lay dorment?  I am trying to tolerate Coreg at this
  time, but am having a very difficult time.
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238668 tn?1232735930

Dear Alice,
Topic Area: Cardiomyopathy
Q: If the Cardiomyopathy is caused by a virus how long is this virus usually active
in your system? Could the virus still be active? Does the virus flare up at certain times?
A: The viral infection in cardiomyopathy is short lived - maybe a week or so.  The problem is the damage that is done during that week.  There is no "dormant" phase or activity of the virus that could persist and cause flare-ups.
Below is some additional information about cardiomyopathy.
Basically cardiomyopathy is a "weakness" of the heart muscle that can be due to ischemia (lack of blood flow - the most common), viral (more common in young people),  idiopathic (unknown cause but probably viral) and several rare conditions.  It is usually diagnosed by history and an echocardiogram.  Occasionally a heart muscle biopsy is performed.  It may not be easy to predict or diagnosis prior to the onset.
Symptoms are shortness of breath, swelling in the legs, chest discomfort and palpitations and increased fatigue.  Treatment is usually medical and in severe cases heart transplant.  About a third of patients get worse with some going on to transplant.  Another third stay the same and are managed well with medical therapy and the rest get better.  
Q: How common is Dialated Cardiomyopathy as a result of a virus?
A:  In young people it is probably the number one cause of cardiomyopathy.  In older people it is less common.
Q: Is it serious or no big deal?
A:  It is a serious condition and should be followed carefully.
Q: Should those of us that have it be concerned?
A: Concerned in regard to taking good care of yourself and following your doctor's advice.
A: How often should one (someone with cardiomyopathy)  have their EF checked?
Q: This will vary from doctor to doctor but generally every 6 months to a year.
Q: Does the EF% have anything to do with a person's energy level?
A: Someone with a decreased EF may feel more fatigued.
Q: What is the average life years expectancy of a person with Dialated Cardiomyopathy?
A: This will vary considerably depending upon the severity of the illness.  Some people may die within months to years and others  go on to have normal lifespans.
Hope this helps.  Feel free to write back with any additional questions.
Information provided here is for general educational purposes only.  Only your doctor can provide specific diagnoses and treatments.  If you would like to be seen at the Cleveland Clinic, please call 1-800-CCF-CARE for an appointment at Desk F15 with a cardiologist.

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