Saturday, April 16, 2011

Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy

Alcoholic cardiomyopathy is a heart condition in which excessive, habitual use of alcohol weakens the myocardium, leading to heart failure; blood cannot be pumped efficiently, and this in turn affects the lungs, liver, brain, and other body systems. Symptoms presented by the occurrence of alcoholic cardiomyopathy are ankle, feet, and leg swelling, loss of appetite, breathing difficulty while lying down, decreased alertness, fatigue, palpitations, etc. Murmurs, abnormal heart sounds, ECG abnormalities, and enlarged heart on chest x-ray may lead to the diagnosis.

Treatment for alcoholic cardiomyopathy involves lifestyle changes, including complete abstinence from alcohol use, a low sodium diet, and fluid restriction. Medications may include ACE inhibitors, beta blockers, and diuretics which are commonly used with other forms of cardiomyopathy to reduce the strain on the heart. Persons with congestive heart failure may be considered for surgical insertion of an ICD or a pacemaker which can improve heart function. In cases where the heart failure is irreversible and worsening, heart transplant may be considered.