Cardiomyopathy and Fibromyalgia


Image: Shutterstock/ Shidlovski

Fibromyalgia often seems to come with a host of other conditions. As if fibromyalgia wasn’t enough by itself, people who suffer from it often have concomitant conditions ranging from chronic fatigue syndrome to constant itching. And one of the most dangerous conditions that seem to come with fibromyalgia has to be cardiomyopathy.

It’s a condition that can lead to heart attacks and other serious health risks and affects certain people with fibromyalgia at a high rate. But what is cardiomyopathy? What causes it? And how is it treated?

What Is Cardiomyopathy?

Cardiomyopathy is any condition that damages the muscles in your heart. Your heart is a muscle and it contracts and expands in order to pump blood around your body. The blood travels through your veins, providing oxygen that your cells need. And without that blood, they will begin to dy.

That’s what makes cardiomyopathy so dangerous. It leads to the muscles around the heart becoming thickened and scared. If it progresses far enough, your heart will no longer be strong enough to push the blood around the body. This can lead to serious complications as your cells can no longer get enough oxygen. And if the flow of blood to your brain is cut off, it can even lead to death.

Luckily, that only happens in severe cases. Many times cardiomyopathy produces no symptoms, so you may not even be aware that you have it. But the most common complication of cardiomyopathy is something called an arrhythmia. Arrhythmias are flutters in the normal beating of the heart where it beats faster than it should as it struggles to push blood through the body with the weakened muscles. They’re basically temporary heart spasms, and your doctor can detect them by simply listening to your heart beat. Usually, they aren’t dangerous, but they can be, and they are a sign that something is wrong with your heart.

What Causes It?

Cardiomyopathy is a term that covers a wide range of conditions. And there are many different things that can lead to cardiomyopathy. Things like chronic high blood pressure, drug abuse, infections, and autoimmune diseases can all contribute to the condition.

But what’s interesting is that cardiomyopathy is frequently found in certain people with fibromyalgia. No one is completely sure why this is, but the fact that some people speculate the fibromyalgia is an autoimmune disease might provide a clue. We know that autoimmune disease frequently leads to cardiomyopathy. So if it’s true that fibromyalgia is an autoimmune condition, then it makes sense that it could contribute to cardiomyopathy.

However, not everyone who has fibromyalgia is equally likely to develop cardiomyopathy. It’s most common in women with fibromyalgia who are older than 60. That could be because having fibromyalgia for a longer period of time makes it more likely to develop the condition and that women are genetically predisposed to the condition. But until more research on the subject is available, it’s hard to draw any more conclusions that that.

How Is It Treated?

The good news is that cardiomyopathy is usually treatable. The first step is to make lifestyle changes that lead to a healthier heart. Regular exercise is known to be effective for strengthing the heart, as is a healthy diet. And limiting stress is also very helpful for preventing further damage.

After that, there are a number of medications that are useful for treating the condition. Anti-arrhythmics are a class of drug that helps to limit the heart flutters and keep your heart beating steadily. And your doctor may want to prescribe drugs to lower your blood pressure since high blood pressure raises your risk of heart attacks. Or you may be given drugs to help prevent blood clots that can block the flow of blood to the heart.

Finally, corticosteroids may help reduce the inflammation. These are hormones that your body produces naturally to fight inflammation. So a doctor might prescribe them to combat the inflammation that cardiomyopathy causes in the heart muscles.

With these treatments, most people with cardiomyopathy can live a normal life. But it’s important to schedule regular checkups with your doctor to make sure that your treatments are effective and your condition hasn’t progressed farther. Without constant monitoring, your cardiomyopathy can quickly become very serious. Keeping an eye on your health is incredibly important when it comes to living with this condition.

So let us know, do you have cardiomyopathy? Do you also have fibromyalgia? What treatment works for you? Let us know in the comments section below.