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Myopathy

By Annabella Rinaldi


Myopathy is a very broad term for any muscular degeneration disease, in which muscle fibers begin to stop working properly for various reasons. The most common form of myopathy is called “inflammatory myopathy,” which is the category where many more specific types of myopathies fall under. The main signs of inflammatory myopathy are muscle weakness, fatigue, and possibly difficulty breathing [3].


The exact cause of myopathy is unknown; however, a likely cause is an autoimmune response that causes the body to attack its own muscle fibers when fighting off a disease [4]. The damage on the muscle fibers can range from severe to simple, depending on many other factors such as age and preexisting conditions [4]. Myopathy can affect anyone, although it is more common in adults where the muscles have been attacked over time.


The most important factor in determining the severity of myopathy is the location. For example, if it is affecting a muscle like the tricep or bicep, it may cause difficulty in moving an arm for some time [2]. There can also be effects on facial muscles, possibly causing spasms or weakness in the face. This can cause difficulty speaking and even breathing if the movement of the mouth becomes limited. Additionally, this generally affects the muscular system, due to the way the condition stresses the muscles and muscle fibers.


The most drastic form of myopathy is called “cardiomyopathy.” Cardiomyopathy affects the most important muscle in the body - - the heart. When this happens, it causes the chambers of your heart to be enlarged, which can make it hard for one's heart to efficiently pump blood throughout the body and may cause heart failure, blood clots, or even cardiac arrest [1]. Furthermore, the risk factors for cardiomyopathy are more than only autoimmune disease; it can be caused by many factors that would make the heart work overtime, such as stress, high blood pressure, or drug or alcohol use.


Both cardiac and muscular myopathy are life-altering diseases that can drastically affect people's lives. One difference between cardiac and muscular myopathy is that the medications that may be taken are much different. For cardiomyopathy, due to the fact that it is life-threatening, there are medications that would improve the heart's blood flow as well as reduce the risk for clots. However, for muscular myopathy, the best treatments would be steroids to improve muscular function, as well as simply treating the symptoms that arise.


Since myopathy is such a broad term, it is very important to be specific when using it. Although, it is much more common and likely for a person to experience a type of muscular myopathy in their life than a drastic and damaging condition or version of it, like cardiomyopathy. Depending on the type of muscular myopathy, it is likely they are still able to lead healthy lives after diagnosis.


References:

  1. Cardiomyopathy. (2021, March 27). Retrieved March 29, 2021, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cardiomyopathy/symptoms-causes/syc-20370709

  2. Heidi Moawad, M. (2020, January 04). What to expect after A Myopathy Diagnosis. Retrieved March 29, 2021, from https://www.verywellhealth.com/what-to-expect-after-a-myopathy-diagnosis-4135967

  3. Inflammatory myopathies fact sheet. (n.d.). Retrieved March 29, 2021, from https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Fact-Sheets/Inflammatory-Myopathies-Fact-Sheet

  4. Myopathy. (n.d.). Retrieved March 29, 2021, from https://www.clevelandclinicmeded.com/medicalpubs/diseasemanagement/neurology/myopathy/

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