For patients with many types of cardiomyopathy, the disease gradually progresses from being “at risk for heart failure” to have structural heart disease, initially without symptoms and then with symptoms. The American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association classification for these are stages A through C.
Your condition is considered heart failure (Stage C) when you have had symptoms of the conditions, the most common of which are shortness of breath (dyspnea); feeling tired (fatigue); reduced ability to tolerate physical activity; weak legs; waking up to urinate; and swelling (edema) in the feet, ankles, lower legs, and torso.
Depending on which type of cardiomyopathy you have, how early it was diagnosed, and how well it is managed, you may reach a symptomatic stage quickly or after many years.
Life expectancy varies widely as well. With chronic heart failure, about 80% of people will survive for at least 1 year, about half live 5 years, and 30% will survive at least 10 years.
Following your treatment plan closely and notifying your healthcare team of changes in your condition may help slow down progression to end-stage heart failure, which is when the disease no longer responds to the standard medications and devices used to treat the condition, and patients may require transplant or other specialized interventions.
Read previous installments in this series:
For Your Patients: Understanding Your Diagnosis of Cardiomyopathy
For Your Patients: What to Expect When Your Doctor Suspects Cardiomyopathy
For Your Patients: How to Prepare for Your Cardiomyopathy Appointment
For Your Patients: Should My Family Be Checked for Cardiomyopathy Too?
For Your Patients: Maximizing Your Wellness With Cardiomyopathy
For Your Patients: Coping With a Difficult Diagnosis
For Your Patients: Making the Most of Medication Therapy
For Your Patients: Knowing When to Seek Medical Care
“Medical Journeys” is a set of clinical resources reviewed by doctors, meant for physicians and other healthcare professionals as well as the patients they serve. Each episode of this 12-part journey through a disease state contains both a physician guide and a downloadable/printable patient resource. “Medical Journeys” chart a path each step of the way for physicians and patients and provide continual resources and support, as the caregiver team navigates the course of a disease.