Cardiomyopathy: An Overview

Am Fam Physician. 2017 Nov 15;96(10):640-646.


The definition and classification of cardiomyopathy have evolved considerably in recent years. Cardiomyopathy can be separated into primary (genetic, mixed, or acquired) and secondary categories, which result in varied phenotypes including dilated, hypertrophic, and restrictive patterns. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is the most common primary cardiomyopathy and can cause exertional dyspnea, presyncope, atypical chest pain, heart failure, and sudden cardiac death. Dilated cardiomyopathy can be genetic or acquired and typically presents with classic symptoms of heart failure with reduced ejection fraction. Restrictive cardiomyopathy is much less common and often associated with systemic disease. Family physicians should be alert for acquired variants of cardiomyopathy, including peripartum and stress-induced cardiomyopathy, as well as rare variants, such as arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia and left ventricular noncompaction. In addition to history and physical examination, diagnosis of cardiomyopathy includes electrocardiography and echocardiography testing. Treatment may include appropriately staged therapy for heart failure, appropriate activity restriction, evaluation for implantable cardioverter-defibrillator placement, and consideration of heart transplantation in refractory cases. Genetic testing of families is an emerging modality with some potential to augment traditional screening performed by family physicians.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiomyopathies / diagnosis*
  • Cardiomyopathies / etiology
  • Cardiomyopathies / therapy
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Heart / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Risk Factors