It is the most common non-ischemic cardiomyopathy.
In dilated cardiomyopathy, the internal dimensions of the left or right ventricle are increased, while their systolic performance is also affected.
In a large number of patients no specific cause is recognized (idiopathic) while in other cases causes such as previous viral infection, alcoholism, cocaine use, β-Mediterranean anemia, certain cytostatic drugs utilization, perinatal myocardial infarction, chronic persistent infection by Trypanosoma Cruzi. In some cases it is an inherited disorder (usually of autosomal dominant type).
It may affect persons of all ages, but is more common in middle-aged and in men. The diagnosis is made by echocardiography, and usually requires extensive screening both to rule out other conditions and to determine the exact etiology.
The usual clinical manifestation of dilated cardiomyopathy is that of heart failure with its signs and symptoms – sometimes it presents suddenly, sometimes gradually. Its treatment is directed respectively.