Know your heart story

Cardiomyopathy is a disease of the heart muscle. Cardiomyopathy can affect anyone: any age, gender or ethnicity. It can cause different symptoms.

  • It affects around 1 in 500 people in the UK - that’s about 160,000 people.
  • It affects the structure of the heart and how it works.
  • It is often genetic - caused by a mutation in the person’s genetic make-up (DNA).
  • It can be inherited and often runs in families. So it’s important to know if heart disease runs in your family.

If your doctor thinks you may have cardiomyopathy, they might ask you some questions about:

  • your heart history (any symptoms you have); and
  • any history of heart disease  in your family.

We call this your heart story.

They might ask you the following questions.

  • Do you have any of the following symptoms: breathlessness, tiredness, swollen ankles or tummy, palpitations (feeling your heart beat),dizziness or fainting or chest pain?
  • Has anyone in your family died young (under 35 years old)? Cardiomyopathy can carry a risk of sudden death at a young age.
  • Has anyone died suddenly or where a cause was unclear, such as by drowning or in a car accident? Sometimes heart-related deaths are recorded as accidental.
  • Does anyone in your family have a heart condition, pacemaker or have treatment for an abnormal heart rhythm? This can indicate a genetic heart condition such as cardiomyopathy in the family.

What are the symptoms of cardiomyopathy?

If you have any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor. If you have a history of heart disease in your family make sure your doctor knows. Together, your symptoms and family history is Your Heart Story.

The content of this page can also be found on our #MyHeartStory pull-out card.


This campaign has been partly funded by an unrestricted
educational grant from Novartis Pharmaceuticals UK