Types of Cardiomyopathy

Five Main Types of Cardiomyopathy

Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM)

Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) is found most frequently in adults under 50 years old. DCM causes the heart muscle to stretch and become thin, which makes it difficult for the heart to pump blood, leading to heart failure. In close to half of all DCM cases, the cause is unknown and most likely has a genetic basis or is inherited. In some cases, DCM can also cause problems with the heart’s electrical system which may interfere with the heart’s performance and can cause dangerous arrhythmias. To learn more about DCM, visit our partners at the DCM Foundation.

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM)

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) causes the heart muscle to thicken, making it difficult for the heart to pump blood. HCM is often inherited, and many people go undiagnosed. To learn more about HCM, visit our partners at the Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Association.

Arrhythmogenic Cardiomyopathy (ACM)

Arrhythmogenic Cardiomyopathy (ACM) is an inherited heart disease affecting the muscular wall of the heart. ACM is sometimes misdiagnosed as DCM. It causes the heart muscle cells (called myocytes) to die and be replaced with scar tissue and fatty cells, which weakens the heart over time. Forms of ACM can include arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC), also referred to as arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia (ARVD). To learn more about ACM, ARVC, and ARVD, visit Johns Hopkins Medicine. 

Restrictive Cardiomyopathy (RCM)

Restrictive Cardiomyopathy (RCM) is the rarest form of cardiomyopathy. RCM causes the lower chambers of the heart (or ventricles) to become stiff so they can’t empty or eject an adequate volume of blood to the body which can lead to signs and symptoms of heart failure. For more information about RCM, visit Penn Medicine.

Left Ventricular Non-compaction Cardiomyopathy (LVNC)

Left Ventricular Non-compaction Cardiomyopathy (LVNC) is a rare heart condition. It’s typically a congenital condition, meaning a person is born with it. In LVNC, your lower left heart chamber doesn’t develop properly. As a result, your heart may not pump blood throughout your body as efficiently as it should. To learn more about LVNC, visit our partners at the Children’s Cardiomyopathy Foundation.


Each type of cardiomyopathy has its own unique set of symptoms, causes, and treatment options. In general, however, the symptoms of cardiomyopathy can include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Swelling in the legs and feet
  • Chest pain
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Palpitations (a feeling of a racing or pounding heart)

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to see a doctor right away to get a diagnosis and start treatment.

Treatment for cardiomyopathy depends on the type and severity of the disease. Some people with cardiomyopathy may only need to make lifestyle changes, such as eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and managing stress. Others may need medication or surgery to help improve their heart function. In some cases, a heart transplant may be necessary.

With early diagnosis and treatment, most people with cardiomyopathy can live long and healthy lives.

If you have been diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, it is important to consider genetic testing, as 50% of cardiomyopathy cases are now thought to be caused by genetics.

Learn About Genetic Testing

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