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Restrictive cardiomyopathy, or RCM, is a condition where the chambers of the heart become stiff over time. Though the heart is able to squeeze well, it is not able to relax between beats normally. This makes it harder for the heart to fill with blood. The blood backs up in the circulatory system. This can cause fluid to build up in the body including the lungs, which leads to many of the symptoms of the condition. It also increases the pressure inside the ventricles and the atria can become enlarged.There is also an increased risk for irregular heart rhythms. Eventually this disease makes the heart unable to pump as much blood out to the body as it normally would. Most people with RCM eventually develop heart failure.RCM is a fairly uncommon form of cardiomyopathy. It tends to mostly affect older adults.
Many different causes can lead to RCM. These are mostly other medical conditions. They include:
In some cases, the cause of RCM is not known.
In its early stages, RCM may not have any symptoms. These may worsen slowly or more quickly. Some symptoms include:
Your healthcare provider will take a careful medical history and do a thorough physical exam. Your healthcare provider may use one or more of these tests to help make the diagnosis:
The causes of RCM can be hard to treat. The treatment is often centered around the underlying cause. For example, chelation therapy or phlebotomy may help RCM caused by too much iron in the body. Chelation therapy uses drugs that bind to iron and removes it from the body. Phlebotomy removes some of the iron-loaded blood from the body through an IV. A bone marrow transplant may be used to treat RCM caused by amyloidosis. It replaces cells that make the amyloid proteins.
Your healthcare provider may prescribe treatments to help reduce your symptoms, such as:
Your healthcare provider might also advise an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD). You may need this if you are at risk for heart rhythms that can cause sudden death. If your condition becomes very severe, you may need a heart transplant in the future.
Some complications can occur from dilated cardiomyopathy, such as:
Your healthcare provider’s treatment plan will work to prevent these complications.
Your healthcare provider may give you additional instructions about how to manage your RCM.
See a healthcare provider right away if you have severe symptoms like chest pain or severe shortness of breath. If your symptoms are gradually increasing, plan to see your healthcare provider soon.
RCM affects the heart muscle. The heart becomes stiffer and is unable to relax well. It can make the heart unable to pump enough blood out to the body. It can also sometimes lead to dangerous heart rhythms.
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your health care provider:
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