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Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM)

An inherited cardiac condition

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

About

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

  • Symptoms of dilated cardiomyopathy icon plus

    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.

  • Diagnosis icon plus

    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:

    • a cardiac stress test to investigate how efficiently your heart is working
    • an electrocardiogram (ECG) to measure the electrical activity of your heart. 

    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.

  • Potential treatment options icon plus

    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.

Consultant in theatres

Our consultants

We're proud to work with leading experts across a range of medical fields, whose skills are matched by their integrity and compassion. 
 

Our facilities

From complex surgery to straightforward procedures, we provide exceptional care across our network of hospitals, outpatient centres and specialist clinics.

  • London Bridge Hospital Facility

    London Bridge Hospital

    27 Tooley Street

    London

    SE1 2PR

    Appointments and Enquiries 020 7234 2009
    Imaging Appointments 020 7234 2773
    Switchboard 020 7407 3100

  • facility-HSC-flag-hero-582x582

    The Harley Street Clinic

    35 Weymouth Street

    London

    W1G 8BJ

    Appointments 020 7034 8181
    Enquiries 020 3131 7962

  • Wellington-south-hero-facility-582-582

    The Wellington Hospital

    Wellington Place

    London NW8 9LE

    Appointments 0207 483 5148
    Enquiries 020 3131 7478

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