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St. Vincent's Medical Center, Bridgeport CT

Heart Muscle Disorders

St. Vincent’s Regional Heart & Vascular Center has the facilities, most advanced technology and expert staff to produce the best outcomes for patients with heart muscle disease.

Heart muscle disease, also known as cardiomyopathy, may be congenital or acquired, and refers to a heart that is abnormally enlarged, thickened or stiffened. These changes to the heart muscle impair the heart’s ability to pump blood to other parts of the body, resulting in heart failure or arrhythmias.

The most common types of cardiomyopathy include:

  1. Congestive cardiomyopathy: which can be caused by infection or heart muscle inflammation, excessive alcohol consumption, poor diet, childbirth complications or genetic disorders. Symptoms of heart failure develop.
  2. Dilated cardiomyopathy: Due to any of a number of medical problems, the heart becomes weak and enlarged, impairing its ability to pump blood.
  3. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy: Usually inherited, the heart becomes thickened, making it harder for blood to leave the heart.
  4. Ischemic cardiomyopathy: Changes in the heart muscle occur due to narrowing of arteries.
  5. Restrictive cardiomyopathy: A stiffening of the heart muscle makes it difficult for the heart chambers to properly fill with blood.


  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness or fainting

Causes/risk factors

  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Lack of exercise
  • Pregnancy
  • Genetic defects
  • Certain diseases such as end-stage kidney, amyloidosis and lupus
  • Chemotherapy


Physicians at St. Vincent’s Regional Heart & Vascular Center are skilled in diagnosing and treating cardiomyopathy and other forms of heart disease. After obtaining a complete medical history and performing a thorough evaluation, your cardiologist may perform further cardiac testing including:

  • Angiography
  • Heart biopsy


Patients with cardiomyopathy should avoid smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, a high-salt diet, and certain drugs that can damage the heart. A normal weight and blood pressure are also important because they reduce the work that the heart has to do. In some cases of cardiomyopathy, physical exertion should be limited.

But when these lifestyle changes are not enough, your cardiologist at St. Vincent’s Regional Heart & Vascular Center will take a complete history, perform a thorough examination and create a treatment plan for you that may include medications such as diuretics, steroids, ACE inhibitors, beta-blockers and calcium-channel blockers.

A pacemaker may be implanted to treat either a slow heartbeat or to allow both sides of the heart to beat in synchronization. Wearing a defribillator may also be recommended to correct abnormal heart arrhythmias.

A cardiac catheterization may be performed to determine if coronary artery bypass (CABG) surgery or angioplasty are needed to improve blood flow to the weakened heart muscle.

Click here for American Heart Association healthy-heart lifestyle guidelines.

Contact us

To find a St. Vincent’s physician who can discuss your health concerns or those of a loved one, please click on our FIND A DOCTOR tool and search by specialty, practice, location or keyword. We’re here to help you locate the medical expert you need.

To speak with a St. Vincent's Care Line representative, call (877) 255-7847

To speak with someone at the front desk of the Medical Center, please call (203) 576-6000

Click in for St. Vincent's Medical Center DIRECTIONS | MAPS | PARKING information

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