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