Alcoholic cardiomyopathy is caused by long-term heavy alcohol use. It is a type of dilated cardiomyopathy. The
heart muscle is weakened and cannot pump blood efficiently. If your heart gets weaker, you may develop heart
failure. Alcohol in excessive quantities has a directly toxic effect on heart
Symptoms are the result of the weakened heart muscle. Symptoms include fatigue,
shortness of breath, swelling, and cough. Muscular weakness may also be present
because of the effect of alcohol on muscles (alcoholic myopathy).
Treatment includes quitting drinking. Quitting drinking often results in improved heart function. Continued alcohol
consumption, on the other hand, will continue to make alcoholic cardiomyopathy worse.
Treatment includes medicines and lifestyle changes.
Bozkurt B, et al. (2016). Current diagnosis and treatment strategies for specific dilated cardiomyopathies: A scientific statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation, 134(23): e579-e646. DOI: 10.1161/CIR.0000000000000455. Accessed December 16, 2016.
Mestroni L, et al. (2011). Dilated cardiomyopathies. In V Fuster et al., eds., Hurst's the Heart, 13th ed., vol. 1, pp. 821-836. New York: McGraw-Hill.
ByHealthwise Staff Primary Medical ReviewerRakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology Brian D. O'Brien, MD - Internal Medicine Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine Specialist Medical ReviewerGeorge Philippides, MD - Cardiology