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Dilated Cardiomyopathy and Symptoms of Heart Failure

A person with Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) may experience a range of symptoms, or even no symptoms at all. Over time, DCM may lead to heart failure.

Symptom severity of heart failure is classified and categorized by the New York Heart Association classification I, II, III, IV, which refers to symptoms of heart failure.

> Click on the symptom for detailed information and personal videos.

No Symptoms (Class I)   View Video

  • Individual can perform usual exertional activities without limitations.
  • Person is likely to eventually develop symptoms.

Mild Symptoms (Class II)   View Videos

  • Usual exertional activities are limited by shortness of breath and fatigue.

Moderate Symptoms (Class III)   View Videos

  • There is a marked limitation in activity due to shortness of breath and/or fatigue
    even with less than ordinary physical activity, such as with walking short distances.
  • There are no symptoms at rest.
  • Symptoms may be severe enough to need hospital care.

Severe Symptoms (Class IV)   View Video

  • Exertion is severely limited by shortness of breath and/or fatigue.
  • Symptoms are occurring at rest.
    • A smothering or drowning feeling awakens a person from sleep.
    • There is the need to sleep upright or nearly upright.
  • Symptoms often are severe enough to require hospital care.

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Symptoms can be a fluid and dynamic process, moving back and forth among levels of severity.

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