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Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy

Topic Overview

Alcoholic cardiomyopathy is caused by long-term alcohol abuse. It is a type of dilated cardiomyopathy. The heart muscle is weakened and cannot pump blood efficiently, leading to heart failure. Alcohol in excessive quantities has a directly toxic effect on heart muscle cells.

Symptoms are the result of heart failure and include fatigue, shortness of breath, swelling, and cough. Muscular weakness may also be present because of the effect of alcohol on muscles (alcoholic myopathy).

Treatment includes quitting drinking. Quitting drinking often results in improved heart function. Continued alcohol consumption, on the other hand, will continue to make heart failure worse. Treatment also often includes standard treatment for heart failure, such as lifestyle changes and medicines.

Related Information

References

Other Works Consulted

  • Mestroni L, et al. (2011). Dilated cardiomyopathies. In V Fuster et al., eds., Hurst's the Heart, 13th ed., vol. 1, pp. 821–836. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
George Philippides, MD - Cardiology
Last Revised July 24, 2012

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