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Care for Cardiomyopathy at University of Colorado Hospital

Why Choose Treatment for Cardiomyopathy at University of Colorado Hospital?

If you or a loved one has heard a diagnosis of cardiomyopathy, you know how serious that can be.

University of Colorado Hospital is nationally recognized for its heart failure and cardiomyopathy program. We manage the care of more than 800 patients who live not only in Colorado, but in Montana, Wyoming, New Mexico and western Kansas and Nebraska.

Our physicians also teach at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, so they are always at the forefront of new treatments for heart disease. 

Our cardiology care team takes great pride in providing individualized, around-the-clock care for both our patients and their families.

HCM program

UCH's hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) program is the regional referral center for HCM management and for alcohol septal ablation procedures.

The program performs surgical procedures on cardiomyopathy patients.

Medical Team

Cardiomyopathy Specialists

Cardiologist - a doctor who specialize in study of the actions of the heart and its diseases

Interventional cardiologist - a cardiologist who specializes in the catheter-based treatment of heart disease

Interventional radiologist - a doctor who specializes in minimally invasive, targeted treatments performed using imaging for guidance

Cardiac sonographer - a doctor who specializes in the use of sound wave imaging (ultrasound) to evaluate the anatomy of the heart

Cardiac Electrophysiologist - a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating irregular heart rhythms caused by problems with the heart’s electrical system

Cardiovascular medical genetics specialist - a doctor who specializes in the study of the genetic basis of the workings of and diseases of the heart


Other Cardiomyopathy Staff

Registered nurses - nurses licensed in the state of Colorado who conducts medical evaluations, takes patient histories and provides ongoing care for patients

Nurse practitioner - a registered nurse who has completed advanced education and training on how to manage common medical conditions, including chronic illnesses


Cardiac Catheterization

Helps your doctor determine the pressure on the heart and the blood vessels feeding it. The catheterization requires a small tube to be inserted through the artery in the groin and passed through to the heart. An injection of dye allows your doctor to see the pattern of blood flow to and through your heart and determine if there are blockages.

Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

The cardiac MRI uses an intravenous line to inject contrast dye through a vein. The MRI uses radio frequencies, rather than x-rays, to provide detailed pictures of the heart and its capacity to pump blood.


An echocardiogram (ECHO) uses sound waves to create pictures of the heart. A stress ECHO is taken while you exercise on a bike or treadmill.


An electrocardiogram (ECG) is used to determine the rate and regularity of your heartbeat. The ECG is administered by attaching wires to your body. The wires detect electrical signals from the heart, which are recorded on a machine for the doctor’s review.

Holter Monitors

Holter monitors are portable ECG units worn by the patient to monitor the heart 24 hours a day.

Exercise Stress Test

To evaluate how well your heart is functioning, your doctor may order an exercise stress test. During this test, you will walk on a treadmill while a machine monitors your:

  • Heart rhythm
  • Blood pressure
  • Other vital signs



Sometimes medications can be used to treat cardiomyopathy.

  • ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme) inhibitors reduce pressure on the blood vessels by dilating (widening) them
  • Antibiotics prevent infection of the heart
  • Anti-coagulants help to prevent blood clots from forming
  • Anti-hypertensive drugs help to control high blood pressure
  • Beta blockers slow down the heart rate and can help widen blood vessels
  • Calcium channel blockers help to slow down the heart rate and also lower blood pressure
  • Corticosteroids help to reduce inflammation
  • Digitalis slows down the heart rate and increases the strength of the heart’s contractions
  • Diuretics help to remove excess fluid from the body

Septal Myectomy

Septal myectomy (also called septal myomectomy) is open-heart surgery for people with hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy (enlargement of the wall separating the chambers of the heart, which restricts blood flow) and severe symptoms. It is generally used in younger patients and when medicines aren't working well.

Ventricular Assist Devices

Ventricular assist devices provide mechanical circulation support for the heart. The implanted devices help the lower chambers of the heart (the ventricles) to pump blood to the lungs and the rest of the body. The devices may be used:

  • Short term to assist in recovery from surgery
  • As a bridge to assist patients waiting for a new heart
  • for patients whose hearts require long-term pumping help

Heart Transplant Surgery

Heart transplantation is available for patients whose cardiac disease is too severe to be treated with medicine or surgery and whose life expectancy is less than one year.


A pacemaker helps your heart beat regularly. It is a small generator implanted under the skin. It produces the electrical impulses that stimulate the heart to contract and pump blood to the rest of the body. Surgeons attach the pacemaker to the heart with tiny wires that are run through a chest vein. The wires transmit regular electrical impulses to the heart, just as the healthy body would naturally.

Implanted Cardiovertor Defibrillators

An implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) is a pager-sized device implanted in your chest like a pacemaker that detects irregular heart rhythms and “shocks” them back to normal with small electrical impulses.

Septal Ablation

Septal Ablation, also called Alcohol Septal Ablation, is a newer treatment option. In this procedure, alcohol is injected through a catheter into the artery supplying blood to the heart muscle. The alcohol destroys the cells in the thickened tissue, shrinking it and allowing blood to flow more freely.

Patient Education

Living With Cardiomyopathy

Understanding and recognizing the symptoms of cardiomyopathy will help you to live with the condition. Symptoms of cardiomyopathy include:

  • Fatigue, weakness and shortness of breath
  • Arrhythmias
  • Abnormal sounds during the heartbeat, know as a heart murmur
  • Dizziness and lightheadedness after exertion
  • Swelling in the stomach, legs, ankles and/or feet

The most important thing to do if you have cardiomyopathy is to carefully monitor and manage your health by taking all prescribed medications, seeing your doctor regularly and making any needed lifestyle changes, including:

  • Limiting salt, fat and fluids in your diet
  • Exercising regularly
  • Maintaining an appropriate weight
  • Quitting smoking
  • Limiting or eliminating alcohol consumption
  • Reducing stress

If you have dental work or surgery, you should use antibiotics to prevent infections of the heart.

Getting a Second Opinion about Cardiomyopathy

The doctors and staff of University of Colorado Hospital are happy to provide second opinions for patients who have symptoms of or a diagnosis of Cardiomyopathy.

Cardiomyopathy Patient Forum

Additional Cardiomyopathy Resources

Additional Information on Ventricular Assist Devices (VADs)


Cardiomyopathy at a Glance

Cardiomyopathy is disease of the heart muscle. It causes the heart to enlarge or become thick or rigid.

If the disease progresses, the heart has more trouble pumping blood to the rest of the body, which leads to heart failure. Cardiomyopathy also can cause irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias).

Cardiomyopathy can be inherited or caused by:

UCH's hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) program is the regional referral center for HCM management. A team of experts provide specialized services including genetic testing and counseling, advanced diagnostic imaging in the form of 3-D echocardiography and cardiac MRI, personalized medical management, risk stratification for sudden death and arrhythmia management including AICD implantation and septal reduction procedures including alcohol septal ablation and surgical myomectomy.

Cardiomyopathy/Heart Failure Research

Research efforts at University of Colorado Hospital allow us to provide patients with advanced medical and surgical options not available elsewhere in the Rocky Mountain region. We are world leaders in developing medical and device therapies to improve your heart function and quality of life.

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