Ischemic Cardiomyopathy | Causes and Symptoms | MedStar Health

Recognizing and treating an enlarged, weakened heart

Ischemic cardiomyopathy is one of several types of cardiomyopathy. The heart’s left ventricle becomes enlarged and weakened because of ischemia, a lack of blood supply to the heart muscle. This condition decreases the heart’s ability to pump blood.

Ischemic cardiomyopathy is a common cause of heart failure. Our advanced heart failure program is unmatched in the mid-Atlantic region for its scope of services, quality of care and outcomes.

What causes ischemic cardiomyopathy?

Coronary artery disease, atherosclerosis, and heart attacks can reduce or cut off blood supply to the left ventricle, which can lead to ischemic cardiomyopathy.

Several risk factors can increase your likelihood of developing ischemic cardiomyopathy:

What are the symptoms of ischemic cardiomyopathy?

If you have ischemic cardiomyopathy, you may not notice any symptoms, or they may develop over time. Ischemic cardiomyopathy symptoms can include:


Diagnosis starts with a complete physical exam and blood tests. You also may need a variety of other tests.

Angiogram (Angiography)

An angiogram is a special X-ray taken as a special dye is injected through a thin, flexible tube called a catheter to detect blockages or aneurysms in blood vessels.

Cardiac Catheterization

Cardiac catheterization is a minimally invasive way to diagnose and treat a variety of heart and vascular conditions by guiding thin, flexible tubes called catheters through blood vessels to problem areas.

Chest X-ray

Chest X-rays use a small dose of radiation to create pictures of the structures inside the chest, including the lungs, heart and chest wall.

Computerized Tomography (CT) Scan

The cardiac computed tomography scan, or cardiac CT, uses X-rays to create three-dimensional images of your heart and blood vessels.


An echocardiogram uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of your heart.

Electrocardiogram (ECG)

An electrocardiogram, also known as an ECG, measures the heart’s electrical activity.

Event Monitors

An event monitor is a small device that records the heart’s electrical activity. It’s similar to an electrocardiogram, but where an electrocardiogram takes place over a few minutes, an event monitor measures heart rhythms over a much longer time.

Fractional Flow Reserve

Fractional flow reserve, also known as FFR, is a measurement of how well blood can flow through the coronary arteries. Narrowing or blockages in these arteries can lead to a heart attack without treatment.

Holter Monitors

A Holter monitor is a small device that records the heart’s electrical activity. It’s similar to an electrocardiogram, but whereas an electrocardiogram records over a few minutes, a Holter monitor records over the course of a day or two.

Stress Tests

Stress tests are used to assess how your heart works during physical activity. There are several types of stress tests, including treadmill or bike stress tests, nuclear stress tests, stress echocardiograms, and chemically induced stress tests.


Your treatment plan likely will include medications and lifestyle changes to improve your heart’s function. Your doctor also may recommend other interventional procedures or surgery.


Angioplasty improves blood flow through the arteries by clearing plaque build-up.

Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy (CRT)

Cardiac resynchronization therapy, or CRT, is a treatment for heart failure that uses a pacemaker device to keep the heart’s lower two chambers pumping together.

Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery

Coronary artery bypass surgery, also known as coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABG), restores normal blood flow through narrowed or blocked coronary arteries by using a healthy blood vessel taken from your leg, arm, or chest to create a detour around the problem area.

Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD)

An implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) is a device implanted below your collarbone that monitors your heart’s rhythm. When it detects an abnormal rhythm, it delivers an electrical impulse or shock to the heart to correct it.

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