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Left Ventricular Non-compaction Cardiomyopathy

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

In LVNC, muscle in the heart's left ventricle — one of two lower chambers — becomes thick, with space between muscle fibers. These changes make the muscle weak and affect how the left chamber pumps blood.

Doctors estimate LVNC affects around 10 out of a million people each year.

But they don't know this with certainty since some people with LVNC don't have any symptoms.

Left ventricular non-compaction cardiomyopathy causes

Doctors don't always know what causes LVNC.

Sometimes, parents pass it on to their kids through genes. These mutated genes can cause changes in how a baby's heart forms while in the womb. This can lead to LVNC.

Other times, the gene mutations happen without any family history of the disease. You might be the first in your family to have LVNC.

Some people with LVNC have other heart conditions like dilated cardiomyopathy. 

Left ventricular non-compaction cardiomyopathy risks and complications

You might be at risk for LVNC if you have:

  • A family member with LVNC or other type of cardiomyopathy.
  • Stroke symptoms.

LVNC can cause complications, including:

  • Strokes.
  • Blood clots.
  • Heart failure, meaning the heart can't pump blood as it should.
  • Sudden cardiac death.

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

Our center has experts who diagnose and treat genetic heart diseases, including LVNC.

Our team offers:

  • LVNC screening and diagnosis.
  • Genetic counseling.
  • Tailored treatment plans to help you manage your LVNC.

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. 

Medicine to treat LVNC

Your doctor might prescribe certain drugs to treat LVNC.

These include:

  • Medicines to control or improve how your heart beats. 
  • Medicines to manage how your blood flows.
  • Blood thinners to reduce the risk of blood clots and strokes.

Surgery to treat LVNC

If needed, your doctor might talk to you about:

  • Implanting a cardioverter defibrillator (ICD), which shocks your heart into a normal heartbeat if you suffer a dangerous heart rhythm.
  • Implanting a ventricular assist device (VAD), which helps your heart pump. 
  • A heart transplant.

Your physician may also discuss tailored lifestyle changes to help you better manage your LVNC.