Although the majority of patients with cardiomyopathy are in the category of primary or idiopathic cardiomyopathy, for which therapy is symptomatic and non-specific, there are a number of secondary forms of cardiomyopathy for which specific therapy is available, thus giving impetus to prompt and accurate diagnosis. Among inflammatory lesions, brucellosis, psittacosis and toxoplasmosis are examples. Treatable metabolic causes include thyrotoxicosis and thiamine deficiency, the latter as well as calorie-protein malnutrition are also preventable. There is presumptive evidence that the cardiomyopathy of haemochromatosis is benefited by repeated phlebotomies. Symptomatic relief of obstructive cardiomyopathy is achieved by beta-adrenergic blockade, although resection of obstructing myocardium still has a place. The therapeutic approach to the vast majority of cases of congestive cardiomyopathy is non-specific, comprising controlled activity, sodium restriction, digitalis and diuretics. Vasodilators and, occasionally, beta-adrenergic blockade may be beneficial. Pacemakers may be life-saving, whereas the place of anti-arrhythmics remains uncertain. Transplantation warrants further application. Valve replacement has little to offer. Primary prevention, comprising balanced nutrition, vaccines and genetic counselling, merits wider application. In individuals at risk or already afflicted, programmes of secondary prevention should include good nutrition, abstinence from alcohol and protection from drugs and toxins.
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