Living with Cardiomyopathy

Your doctor will outline a treatment plan to help you live better with cardiomyopathy and stop it from getting worse. Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions. You can also make some lifestyle changes that will help your heart.

Man standing on bathroom scale.

Follow your treatment plan

Be sure to visit your doctor regularly. Mention any problems you are having with your treatment plan. Be honest if you are not doing something your doctor has suggested. He or she may be able to make some changes to help your plan work better for you.

Balance activity and rest

Having cardiomyopathy may mean you get tired more quickly. But this shouldn’t keep you from being active. In fact, being active may help you feel better. Talk with your doctor about how much activity is right for you.

Take steps to help your heart

  • Stop smoking. Smoking damages your heart muscle and blood vessels. It reduces the oxygen in your blood. It makes your heart beat faster and work harder. And it can make a heart attack, also known as acute myocardial infarction, or AMI, more likely.

  • Lose any excess weight. The more extra weight you have, the harder your heart has to work to pump blood through your body.

  • Avoid alcohol. Drinking alcohol may make your cardiomyopathy worse.

  • Eat less salt. Salt is the main source of sodium in our diet. Too much sodium can make the symptoms of cardiomyopathy worse. Your doctor may tell you to limit your sodium intake to less than 1,500 mg a day. That’s about half a teaspoon of salt.

Keep track of your weight

Rapid weight gain may mean that you are retaining fluid, which is one of the signs of heart failure. Keeping track of your weight helps you detect this weight gain early and prevent further damage to your heart. To keep track of your weight:

  • Weigh yourself at the same time each day, after you urinate. Wear the same thing each time. Write down your weight each day.

  • Don’t stop weighing yourself. If you forget one day, weigh again the next morning.

  • Call your doctor if you gain more than 2 pounds in 1 day, more than 5 pounds in 1 week, or whatever weight gain you were told to report by your doctor.

Call your doctor

Contact your doctor if you have: 

  • Faint or have dizzy spells.

  • Notice new symptoms from your medication.

  • Have a new onset of coughing.

  • Have trouble breathing, especially if it occurs while at rest or lying down.

  • Get tired faster.

  • Begin urinating less often.

  • Find that your feet or ankles swell more than usual, if you have swelling in your legs or abdomen, or if the veins in your neck stick out more than usual. 

  • Have tightness or pain in your chest.