Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM)


  • Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a when the heart muscle is weaker than normal and the chambers of the heart enlarge (dilate). The heart is not able to pump (or eject) as much blood as a normal heart. Sometimes there are also heart rhythm problems. The ECG may be abnormal, or the heart may sometimes beat too fast or too slow. Someone with dilated cardiomyopathy may be short of breath or have a cough that doesn’t go away, or have palpitations.
  • Dilated cardiomyopathy is common, affecting 1/250 people. Young children can develop dilated cardiomyopathy, usually due to genetic factors or infections. More commonly, the condition is diagnosed in adults.

Treatment/Standard of Care

An echocardiogram is an ultrasound of the heart and can see the enlarged left ventricle. It can also detect a lower than normal left ventricular ejection fraction. There are some other medical conditions or exposures that can also lead to dilated cardiomyopathy. Your doctor will likely want to order several different heart and blood tests.

People with dilated cardiomyopathy take medications to help improve the heart function and prevent complications. In some cases, cardiac devices are recommended.

Additional Resources

Please note: The Canadian SADS Foundation provides links to external websites for informational purposes only. While we regard these as reputable sources of information, please be aware that The Canadian SADS Foundation is not responsible for the accuracy, legality, or content of the external site or for that of subsequent links.

Cardiomyopathy UK

Information written for patient about Dilated Cardiomyopathy from a UK patient support group

Nova Scotia Health

Nova Scotia Health pamphlet on Dilated Cardiomyopathy (2023).

BC Health Link

Informational website on Dilated Cardiomyopathy.

Pediatric and Congenital Electrophysiology Society (PACES)

Information about Dilated Cardiomyopathy in children, including signs and symptoms.