Restrictive Cardiomyopathy

Restrictive Cardiomyopathy

What is it?

Restrictive cardiomyopathy is the rarest form of cardiomyopathy. It is a condition in which the walls of the lower chambers of the heart (the ventricles) become stiff which prevents the heart's lower chambers from filling up normally with blood between heartbeats. So blood flow is reduced, and blood that would normally enter the heart is backed up in the circulatory system. In time, the heart fails.

Causes, Symptoms and Risk Factors

In most cases, it is not possible to identify what has made the walls of the ventricles becomes stiff. Restrictive cardiomyopathy can be caused by:

  • Abnormal deposits of protein, minerals or other substances in the heart muscle.
    1. Iron may collect in the heart muscle if a person has hemochromatosis causes (a disorder of iron metabolism).
    2. The protein amyloid may collect in the heart muscle of a person who has amyloidosis.
    3. Tumors or abnormal collections of certain white blood cells (granuloma tissue) may get into the heart if a person has sarcoidosis.
  • Scar tissue that has slowly replaced heart muscle as a result of a heart attack or injury such as that caused by radiation therapy for cancer

Because restrictive cardiomyopathy prevents the heart from pumping blood in a normal way, many of its symptoms are those of heart failure including:

  • Arrhythmias and heart palpitations
  • Shortness of breath
  • Week and tired
  • Swelling in legs (edema)
  • Sour stomach
  • Bloating
  • Loss of appetite
  • Chest pain and fainting may occur

Our Services (Tests, Procedures and Treatments)

Diagnostic testing and procedures are the first step in establishing a treatment strategy. A doctor may order tests or perform the following procedures:


There is no cure for restrictive cardiomyopathy. Sometimes, treating an underlying condition can help prevent the condition from getting worse, but the heart problem itself generally cannot be reversed. Doctors currently have no way of repairing severely damaged heart muscle. So the treatment goal is mainly controlling the symptoms of restrictive cardiomyopathy. Medicines are sometimes used to ease the heart's workload and to keep a regular heart rhythm. When the condition becomes severe, a heart transplant may be needed.

St. Luke's Heart & Vascular