Cardiomyopathy, familial dilated
University of Colorado Cardiovascular Institute and Adult Medical Genetics Program, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver, Colorado, USA
Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases 2006, 1:27 doi:10.1186/1750-1172-1-27Published: 13 July 2006
Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a heart muscle disease characterized by ventricular dilatation and impaired systolic function. Patients with DCM suffer from heart failure, arrhythmia, and are at risk of premature death. DCM has a prevalence of one case out of 2500 individuals with an incidence of 7/100,000/year (but may be under diagnosed). In many cases the disease is inherited and is termed familial DCM (FDC). FDC may account for 20–48% of DCM. FDC is principally caused by genetic mutations in FDC genes that encode for cytoskeletal and sarcomeric proteins in the cardiac myocyte. Family history analysis is an important tool for identifying families affected by FDC. Standard criteria for evaluating FDC families have been published and the use of such criteria is increasing. Clinical genetic testing has been developed for some FDC genes and will be increasingly utilized for evaluating FDC families. Through the use of family screening by pedigree analysis and/or genetic testing, it is possible to identify patients at earlier, or even presymptomatic stages of their disease. This presents an opportunity to invoke lifestyle changes and to provide pharmacological therapy earlier in the course of disease. Genetic counseling is used to identify additional asymptomatic family members who are at risk of developing symptoms, allowing for regular screening of these individuals. The management of FDC focuses on limiting the progression of heart failure and controlling arrhythmia, and is based on currently accepted treatment guidelines for DCM. It includes general measures (salt and fluid restriction, treatment of hypertension, limitation of alcohol intake, control of body weight, moderate exercise) and pharmacotherapy. Cardiac resynchronization, implantable cardioverter defibrillators and left ventricular assist devices have progressively expanding usage. Patients with severe heart failure, severe reduction of the functional capacity and depressed left ventricular ejection fraction have a low survival rate and may require heart transplant.