In the Philippines, there are approximately 16 cases of heart failure for every 1000 Filipinos admitted. This number is an underestimation since many heart failure cases remain unreported and unregistered. One of the causes of heart failure is Cardiomyopathy.
Cardiomyopathy is a serious disease of the heart muscles where the heart becomes enlarged, flabby and weak – severely reducing its ability to function effectively. This causes it to become difficult for your heart to pump blood to the rest of your body, leading to congestive heart failure. With early stages of cardiomyopathy, there may be little or no symptoms, but as the condition worsens symptoms will appear including shortness of breath, either during exercise or normal activity, chest pains, dizziness or fainting, fatigue and swelling of the abdomen, hands, or legs. Such symptoms will often become more severe if not treated.
Often the cause of cardiomyopathy is unknown. The condition can be passed on from a parent (genetic) or the result of another condition (acquired), but additionally, a rise in cases of toxin or drug-induced cardiomyopathy has been observed amongst today’s population, with continuous exposure to substances such as alcohol, cocaine or amphetamines increasing your risk. Alongside these more obvious suspects, daily substances like ephedra (commonly found in dietary supplements for slimming or energy boost), and energy drinks have also been found to increase your risk.
“Fortunately, you can help reduce your chance of cardiomyopathy and other types of heart disease by living a healthy lifestyle,” says Dr. Camilo G. Te Jr., an internal medicine and cardiology specialist and active consultant of ManilaMed Medical Center, Manila. “By avoiding the use of substances such as alcohol or cocaine and controlling high blood pressure by eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise and sleep, you really reduce your risk. Whilst full treatment of cardiomyopathy is not available, we can help control it with certain medications and lifestyle changes which will help prevent further damage and loss of function”.