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Left Ventricular Non-compaction Cardiomyopathy

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Image of normal heart.

Image of a normal heart.

Image of LVNC Heart.

Image of a heart with left ventricular non-compaction cardiomyopathy.

What Is Left Ventricular Non-Compaction Cardiomyopathy (LVNC)?

In LVNC, muscle in the heart's left ventricle — one of two lower chambers — becomes sponge-like, with extra space between the muscle tissues. These heart muscle changes can affect how the left chamber pumps blood and can allow blood clots to form in the chamber.

Left ventricular non-compaction cardiomyopathy causes

In some people, the cause of LVNC is from changes in specific genes (mutations). These gene changes can affect how the heart forms and can lead to left ventricular non-compaction cardiomyopathy.

These gene changes can be inherited from parent to child. Therefore, it is important to determine if the cause of your LVNC is secondary to gene changes.

Left ventricular non-compaction cardiomyopathy complications 

LVNC can cause complications, including:

  • Heart failure.
  • Strokes.
  • Heart arrhythmias.
  • Sudden death.

Why choose the UPMC Center for Inherited Heart Disease for LVNC care?

At the center you'll see:

  • A heart doctor specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of left ventricular non-compaction cardiomyopathy.
  • Genetic counselors with expertise in inherited heart disease.

Left Ventricular Non-Compaction Cardiomyopathy (LVNC) Symptoms and Diagnosis

If you have LVNC, you might not have any symptoms at all or even know you have the disease.

Talk to your doctor if you have symptoms such as:

  • Fluttery heartbeats, or palpitations.
  • Trouble breathing.
  • Fatigue (extreme tiredness), especially when you work out.
  • Dizziness or fainting.
  • Swelling in your legs or feet.
  • Blood clots.

Let your doctor know if you have family members who've had sudden cardiac arrest, heart failure, or a heart attack.

Diagnosing left ventricular non-compaction cardiomyopathy

At the UPMC Center for Inherited Heart Disease, you'll see a heart doctor and genetic counselor. They'll screen you for LVNC and ask about your family history of heart disease.

Tests for LVNC include:

  • MRI, which lets doctors see your heart and how blood flows.
  • EKG, which checks the heart's electrical activity and shows how your heart is beating.
  • Echocardiogram, an ultrasound that creates an image of your heart.
  • Heart rhythm monitoring with a Holter monitor.
  • Genetic tests, to determine if your LVNC is inherited.

Left Ventricular Non-Compaction Cardiomyopathy (LVNC) Treatment

Your care team at the UPMC Center for Inherited Heart Disease will create a tailored plan to treat your LVNC. Your treatment will depend on your symptoms.

Treatment goals include managing any symptoms and reducing your risk of complications.

Lifestyle changes to manage LVNC

To help manage LVNC symptoms and improve your overall health, your doctor might suggest:

  • Being more active.
  • Eating healthy foods.
  • Managing high blood pressure.
  • Quitting smoking and other tobacco use.

Medicine to treat LVNC

Your doctor might prescribe certain drugs to treat LVNC.

These include:

  • Blood thinners to reduce the risk of blood clots.
  • Beta blockers to help control heart beats and lower blood pressure.
  • Water pills to reduce blood pressure.
  • ACE inhibitors to control an enzyme that can make blood pressure higher.

Surgery to treat LVNC

If needed, your doctor might talk to you about:

  • Implanting a pacemaker (a device that helps regulate heartbeats).
  • Implanting a cardioverter defibrillator (ICD), which shocks your heart into a normal heartbeat if you suffer a dangerous heart rhythm.
  • A heart transplant.