Prevention and Treatment of Cardiomyopathy

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People who have cardiomyopathy, but no signs or symptoms, may not need treatment. Sometimes, dilated cardiomyopathy that comes on suddenly may go away on its own.

In other instances, treatment is needed. Treatment hinges on a few factors: the type of cardiomyopathy, the severity of your symptoms and complications as well as your age and overall health.

Treatment goals

When treating cardiomyopathy, objectives include:

  • Stopping the disease from getting worse
  • Managing any conditions that cause or contribute to the disease
  • Reducing complications and the risk of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA)
  • Controlling symptoms so that you can live as normally as possible

Treatments for cardiomyopathies

Treatment for cardiomyopathy may include one or more of the following:

Lifestyle changes

Lifestyle changes may help manage a condition that’s causing your cardiomyopathy.

Healthy diet and physical activity

Other lifestyle changes

Your health care professional also may recommend other lifestyle changes, such as:


Many medications are used to treat cardiomyopathy. Your health care professional may prescribe medicines to:

  • Lower your blood pressure. ACE inhibitors, angiotensin II receptor blockers, beta blockers and calcium channel blockers are examples of medicines that lower blood pressure.
  • Slow your heart rate. Beta blockers, calcium channel blockers and digoxin are examples of medicines that slow the heart rate. Beta blockers and calcium channel blockers also are used to lower blood pressure.
  • Keep your heart beating with a normal rhythm. These medicines, called antiarrhythmics, help prevent arrhythmias (abnormal heartbeats).
  • Balance electrolytes in your body. Electrolytes are minerals that help maintain fluid levels and the acid-base balance in your body. Electrolytes also help muscle and nerve tissues work properly. Medicines used to balance electrolytes include aldosterone blockers.
  • Remove excess fluid and sodium from your body. Diuretics, or “water pills,” help remove excess fluid and sodium from the body.
  • Prevent blood clots from forming. Anticoagulants (PDF), or *blood thinners, help prevent blood clots. Blood thinners often are used to prevent blood clots from forming in people who have dilated cardiomyopathy.
  • Reduce inflammation. Medications used to reduce inflammation include corticosteroids.

Procedures for cardiomyopathy

A range of surgical and nonsurgical procedures can be used to treat cardiomyopathy:

  • Septal myectomy: This open-heart surgery is considered for people who have obstructive hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and severe symptoms. This surgery generally is reserved for younger patients and for people whose medications aren’t working well. A surgeon removes part of the thickened septum that’s bulging into the left ventricle. This improves blood flow within the heart and out to the body.
  • Surgically implanted devices: Surgeons can implant several types of devices in the body to help the heart work better, including:
  • Heart transplant: A person’s diseased heart is replaced with a healthy donor heart. A heart transplant is a last resort for people who have end-stage heart failure. (End-stage means that all other treatment options have been explored, without success.)
  • Alcohol septal ablation (nonsurgical procedure): Ethanol (a type of alcohol) is injected through a tube into the small artery that supplies blood to the area of heart muscle thickened by hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. The alcohol causes these cells to die. The thickened tissue shrinks to a more normal size. The risks and complications of heart surgery increase with age. For this reason, ablation may be preferred to myectomy in older patients with other medical conditions.

How can cardiomyopathy be prevented?

You can't prevent inherited types of cardiomyopathy. But you can take steps to lower your risk for conditions that may lead to (or complicate) cardiomyopathy, such as coronary heart disease, high blood pressure and heart attack.

Cardiomyopathy can be precipitated by an underlying disease or condition. Treating that initial problem early enough may help prevent the complications presented by cardiomyopathy. For example, to control the underlying conditions of high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and diabetes:

  • Get regular checkups with your health care professional.
  • Follow your health care professional's advice about lifestyle changes.
  • Take all your medications exactly as prescribed.

Just as some underlying conditions can bring about cardiomyopathy, cardiomyopathy can cause other complications.

For instance, cardiomyopathy can increase the risk for sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). An implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) can lessen this risk. 

* Some medications are commonly called blood thinners because they can help reduce a blood clot from forming. There are two main types of blood thinners that patients commonly take: anticoagulants such as warfarin, dabigatran (Eliquis) and rivaroxaban (Xarelto), and antiplatelet drugs such as aspirin or clopidogrel. Each type of medication has a specific function to prevent a blood clot from forming or causing a blocked blood vessel, heart attack or stroke.