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Restrictive heart disease, or restrictive cardiomyopathy, refers to a set of changes in how the heart muscle functions. These changes cause the heart to fill poorly (more common) or squeeze poorly (less common). Sometimes both problems are present.

Causes

In a case of restrictive heart disease, the heart muscle is normal size or slightly enlarged. Most of the time, it also pumps normally. However, it does not relax normally during the time between heartbeats when the blood returns from the body.

Although the main problem is abnormal filling of the heart, the heart may not pump blood strongly as the disease progresses. The abnormal heart function can affect the lungs, liver and other body systems. Restrictive heart disease may affect either or both of the lower heart chambers.

Restrictive heart disease is a rare condition. The most common causes are amyloidosis and scarring of the heart from an unknown cause. It also can occur after a heart transplant.

Symptoms

Symptoms of heart failure are most common. These symptoms often develop slowly over time. However, symptoms sometimes start very suddenly and are severe.

Common symptoms are:

  • Cough
  • Breathing problems that occur at night, with activity or when lying flat
  • Fatigue and inability to exercise
  • Loss of appetite
  • Swelling of the abdomen
  • Swelling of the feet and ankles
  • Uneven or rapid pulse

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