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Dilated Cardiomyopathy is a Heart Condition that Can Eventually Lead to Transplant

Woman out for a walkDilated cardiomyopathy is a condition characterized by the stretching and thinning of the heart muscle, which may prevent the heart from pumping blood efficiently. While the condition isn’t always life-threatening, it may require treatment and surgical intervention (including heart transplant surgery) in certain cases. Not everyone with dilated cardiomyopathy, also referred to as dilated heart failure, experiences symptoms, but those who do frequently complain of issues caused by the lack of properly oxygenated blood, such as fatigue and shortness of breath. These symptoms can make it difficult to exercise or even to simply walk about and complete normal tasks, and can be accompanied by a loss of appetite, a rapid pulse, coughing, and swelling of the abdomen and legs.

Dilated cardiomyopathy is most commonly seen in adult men, and the direct cause is typically unknown. There are, however, several risk factors linked to the occurrence of dilated cardiomyopathy, including a family history of heart problems, known heart defects or previous heart attacks, high blood pressure, diabetes, coronary heart disease, and drug or alcohol abuse. People who are affected by dilated cardiomyopathy generally need to take medications to control their symptoms, and some may need support from mechanical devices to help regulate their heartbeat, such as a pacemaker or defibrillator. Some individuals may also undergo surgery to repair or replace their damaged heart valves, or to remove weakened heart muscles. In some very severe cases, people affected by this condition experience advanced heart failure and conservative methods aren’t expected to improve their prognosis, necessitating a heart transplant.

Tampa General Hospital’s Heart Transplant Program accepts adult patients who are experiencing congestive heart failure due to several heart transplant conditions, including dilated cardiomyopathy. Our program performs a high volume of adult heart transplants, and we have some of the shortest average times to transplant in Florida. We are also a leader in implanting ventricular assist devices (VADs) and providing mechanical circulatory support (MCS) for patients who do not immediately require a heart transplant. When a cardiologist recommends a patient to our program, our experienced heart transplant team can evaluate his or her specific circumstances to determine the most effective course of action.

To learn more about dilated cardiomyopathy and Tampa General Hospital’s Heart Transplant Program, please call 1-800-505-7769 (press 1 for the heart transplant program and ask for the referral coordinator), or call the coordinator directly at (813) 844-4088.