Dilated cardiomyopathy


A heart conditions that affects the left ventricle, also known as DCM for short.

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What is dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM)?

Dilated cardiomyopathy is a condition where the main pumping chamber of the heart (the left ventricle) becomes weak and enlarged.

Although DCM is often genetic and so inherited from a parent, it can sometimes be caused by an infection, high blood pressure, pregnancy or alcohol use.

DCM affects the left ventricle, the heart's main pumping chamber. It leads to the heart muscle stretching (dilating) and becoming thin, weak and unable to pump normally. This can result in heart failure.

Need to know

Depending on the cause, DCM can develop and cause symptoms at any time from childhood to old age.

As your heart muscle becomes weaker and less able to pump, this can lead to fluid building up in your legs, abdomen, lungs and other parts of your body. This may indicate congestive heart failure.

Other symptoms can include:

  • fatigue or tiring easily.
  • palpitations
  • swollen legs, ankles or abdomen
  • shortness of breath.

DCM can also cause an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia), heart valve problems and blood clots.

If your GP or consultant thinks you may have DCM, the most common way to confirm a diagnosis is through an echocardiogram. An echocardiogram is an ultrasound scan of your heart, which shows its structure and function in real time.

You may also have:

Your consultant or GP will also speak to you about your lifestyle any family history of heart disease. They'll discuss your symptoms with you to determine the best approach with the help of our experienced cardiologists and electrophysiologists who specialise in heart rhythm disorders.

The outlook for patients with DCM has dramatically improved over the last 10 years. Sometimes there are specific treatments for an underlying cause. Otherwise the combination of evidence based medicines and sometimes pacemakers or ICDs usually lead to a significant improvement in patients with DCM.

HCA UK is home to some of the most advanced cardiac care facilities and a dedicated group of consultant cardiologists, cardiac physiologists, and clinical nurse specialists who are experienced in helping to manage inherited cardiac conditions, including DCM.

Our Dilated cardiomyopathy locations

The Harley Street Clinic

The Harley Street Clinic

35 Weymouth Street W1G 8BJ London
The Lister Hospital

The Lister Hospital

Chelsea Bridge Road, SW1W 8RH London
The Cardiac Clinic

The Cardiac Clinic

London Bridge Hospital SE1 2PR London
London Bridge Hospital

London Bridge Hospital

27 Tooley Street SE1 2PR London

Patient stories

This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.