Cardiomyopathy and Exercise

Longevity Exercise Physiology Drummoyne,EdgecliffMarrickville,Bella Vista, Randwick, Lindfield and Balmain today discuss cardiomyopathies; what they are, the different types, and if exercise is safe.

What are cardiomyopathies?

Cardiomyopathy refers to a progressive disease of the heart muscle. In most cases, the heart muscle weakens and is unable to pump blood to the rest of the body adequately.

There are 4 common types of cardiomyopathy:

1. Dilated cardiomyopathy: occurs when the heart muscle, typically the left ventricle stretches and becomes thing or enlarged, becoming too weak to pump blood efficiently. Dilated cardiomyopathy is the most common form and is usually inherited or due to Coronary Artery Disease (CAD).

2. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy: occurs when the heart walls thicken and prevent blood from flowing through the heart. This condition is believed to be genetic but can be caused by long term high blood pressure, diabetes and thyroid disease.

3. Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia: occurs when fat and extra fibrous tissue replace the muscle of the heart, particularly the right ventricle, causing irregular heart rhythms. It is often caused by genetic mutations and are the leading cause of death in young athletes.

4. Restrictive cardiomyopathy: occurs when the ventricles stiffen and can’t relax enough to fill up with blood. This condition is the least common cardiomyopathy and can be idiopathic (no known cause) or can occur as a result of heart disease or other conditions, such as iron build up in the heart muscle.

Common symptoms you should look out for:

– Chest pain or tightness

– Lightheaded or dizziness

– Fainting

– Shortness of breath

– Palpitations

Should I exercise with a cardiomyopathy?

There is a lot unknown about specific exercise prescription with cardiomyopathies. This is also partly due to having a range of ages, fitness levels and different progressions of the disease. It is therefore important to consult with your cardiologist for individualised recommendations before beginning exercise.

What we do know is that exercise is particularly important to prolong heart function. Exercise also helps with weight loss, better sleep, managing stress etc which are risk factors for heart disease and cardiomyopathies.

It is recommended to avoid high intensive or competitive sports and to avoid sudden bursts of exertion such as sprinting or heavy weight lifting.

Our very own Exercise Physiologist, Angela Vitucci, lives with Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia and had to give up competitive sports. She now has transitioned to walking, jogging, and resistance training programs as regular activity and finds enjoyment in other activities like yoga and kayaking.

Angela’s advice is to listen to your body, know your own limits and find something you enjoy doing recreationally.

Longevity Exercise Physiology Edgecliff, Lindfield, Marrickville, Randwick, Drummoyne, Balmain and Bella Vista can help you. Call 1300 964 002 for all enquiries.


Written By Angela

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