What is cardiomyopathy?

Cardiomyopathy causes heart muscle to enlarge and/or thicken. As a result, your heart struggles to pump blood and grows weaker. Is cardiomyopathy easy to detect? Many people don’t know they have this potentially dangerous heart condition, which is why care from experienced heart experts is so important. There are various causes, types, and treatments for cardiomyopathy. At the Allegheny Health Network (AHN) Cardiovascular Institute, we offer comprehensive, personalized care for all types of cardiomyopathy.

Cardiomyopathy causes

While often hereditary, cardiomyopathy can be caused by various conditions including:


Viral cardiomyopathy is considered a rare type of heart failure caused by a viral infection. Viruses may be universal environmental viruses including mumps, measles, yellow fever, or COVID-19.

Alcohol abuse

Alcoholic cardiomyopathy is a type of heart disease brought on by alcohol abuse that causes the heart to thin and weaken.


Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, also known as broken Heart Syndrome, occurs when the heart muscle is suddenly stunned or weakened following severe emotional or physical stress. Some may also refer to this as stress-induced cardiomyopathy. 

Types of cardiomyopathy

We treat all types of cardiomyopathy, including:

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM)

An abnormal thickening of the heart muscle, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is often caused by an inherited condition. Learn more about hypertrophic cardiomyopathy symptoms, diagnosis, and treatments.

Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM)

The most common type of cardiomyopathy, DCM mostly affects adults ages 20 to 60. There are several causes of DCM, but it can also be inherited.

Ischemic cardiomyopathy (CM)

This condition occurs when your heart muscle is weakened after experiencing a heart attack or coronary artery disease.

Nonischemic cardiomyopathy

This is an umbrella term used to describe all conditions where heart failure is present without cause from a heart attack or coronary artery disease.

Restrictive cardiomyopathy

This condition may be brought on by diseases, such as connective tissue disorder, or cancer treatments.

Non-compaction cardiomyopathy

This cardiac disorder occurs when the lower left chamber or ventricle of the heart develops incorrectly, causing the left ventricle to thicken and appear spongy.

Arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC)

This is a disease where fatty fibrous tissue replaces regular heart muscle, interrupting normal electrical signals in the heart. This may lead to irregular heart rhythms and can also be life-threatening.

Peripartum cardiomyopathy, or postpartum cardiomyopathy

Recognized as an uncommon form of heart failure, this heart condition can occur during the last month of pregnancy or a few months after giving birth. 

Cardiomyopathy treatments at AHN: Why choose us?

Our physicians assess your cardiomyopathy type, symptoms, and overall health to develop your personalized care plan. We offer:

Heart failure monitoring devices

Implantable monitors like the CardioMEMS™ can help monitor your heart failure closely, allowing your physicians to recommend medications in a timely manner and prevent visits to the emergency room or hospitalization.

Medication management

Depending on your unique situation, your physician may prescribe medications to manage blood pressure, arrhythmias, or blood clotting.

Support services

We offer a variety of support services to promote better health, including integrative medicine, nutrition and wellness programs, and smoking cessation.

Surgical procedures

Not everyone who has cardiomyopathy needs surgery. If you need surgery, your physician will determine the best option for you. We expertly perform:

Septal myectomy

During this open-heart surgery, your surgeon removes part of the thickened septum, which separates the heart’s upper chambers to improve blood flow.

Mechanical circulatory support

We offer a range of heart support devices to help your heart pump blood, including ventricular assist devices (VADs). Learn more about mechanical circulatory support.

Arrhythmia devices

Pacemakers and implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) help your heart maintain a normal rhythm. Learn more about treatments for heart arrhythmias.

Heart transplant

If heart failure becomes severe, you may need a heart transplant. AHN’s heart transplant program is among the best in the country.

Contact us

Call (412) DOCTORS (412) 362-8677 or request an appointment to learn more about AHN cardiovascular services.

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