Posted By CCF Cardio MD-SGM on December 16, 1997 at 15:01:40:
In Reply to: Idiopathic Dilated Cardiomyopathy posted by Lavonna Doddd on December 16, 1997 at 12:19:42:
: Diagnosed with idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy caused by viral infection. Medication includes Capoten and Lasix. Exercise was stressed as a vital part of my health program. Please give me added research on medication including alternative methods with life expectancy rates.
Dilated cardiomyopathy, or DCM, is a condition where the pumping function of the heart's main chamber, the left ventricle, is reduced, and dilation(or enlargement) occurs. This is not an uncommon diagnosis, and represents the end result of a variety of cardiac toxins and diseases that result in damage to the muscle of the heart. More than 75 specific diseases of heart muscle can produce this syndrome, including certain viral infections. In many cases, the specific cause is not identifiable.
Once the diagnosis is established, it is important to exclude certain factors that may exacerbate the condition, such as alcohol, and to exclude and/or treat coronary artery disease that can sometimes cause a similar condition. If viral infection was implicated in your case, then I'm assuming that other, sometimes correctable factors have been excluded. Regarding therapy, the Capoten(an ACE Inhibitor medication) and Lasix(a diuretic) are mainstays of therapy. Another medicine to consider is a beta-blocking medication, especially Carvedilol, which has been shown in recent trials to reduce mortality in DCM.
Life expectancy is extremely variable, but can be predicted to some extent with data that is gained from the physical examination and routine tests such as echocardiography. Generally, reduced survival is associated with the following findings: more severe symptoms of congestive heart failure(breathlessness, swelling, fatigue with activity), worse ventricular ejection fraction(pumping function), older age of the patient, irregular heart beats, and more enlarged heart. Your particular prognosis and life-expectancy can be estimated in only a very rough sense, depending on the factors I've listed above. I won't attempt to make any estimates in your particular case, as I lack the critical information to arrive at any meaningful conclusion. I would recommend that you discuss this with your physician, however.
You asked about alternative therapies, and I'm not certain whether you are referring to alternative mainstream(allopathic) medical treatments, such as the Carvedilol that I mentioned, or whether you're inquiring about homeopathic remedies and treatments(herbal medicine, alternative medicine, etc...). In regards to the latter, I can only emphasize that mainstream medicine, although not an exact science, relies nonetheless on scientific studies to compare the relative value of one therapy versus another. The medicines that you're taking and the one I've suggested have undergone rigorous testing in carefully controlled clinical trials, and have demonstrated a therapeutic benefit in treating this condition. "Alternative" therapies conveniently dispense with these standards, and often make therapeutic claims based on inaccurate collection and interpretation of data. This is not to say that other therapies for DCM do not exist... I'm certain that they do. However, one must be very cautious before subjecting themselves to treatments that have not been proven to be beneficial. Snake oil salesmen have been around for centuries, making grandiose and unfounded claims, in the hopes of making a profit, with the unaware consumer paying a heavy price-- both financial and physical.
Information provided in the Medhelp Forum is for general medical purposes only. Specific diagnoses and therapeutic recommendations can only be made by your physician.