If you or a loved one has BMD, cardiac care should be a top priority in your healthcare plan. However, if you’re not in the medical industry yourself, you may not know where to start. We know navigating the medical world can be overwhelming—that’s why we have provided this guide to cardiovascular care for men with BMD.
Why Is Cardiac Care Important for BMD Management?
An important thing to remember is that the heart is also a muscle. As Becker muscular dystrophy weakens the muscles in the body, it also weakens the heart and causes cardiomyopathy, also known as heart muscle disease. This risk to the heart warrants that men with BMD or their caregivers take steps to protect their hearts and cardiovascular health.
Carriers of BMD also have a higher risk of developing heart problems even if they do not have BMD themselves. While you may not need the same level of cardiovascular care as someone with BMD, if you’re a carrier, having a complete cardiac evaluation by early adulthood is recommended and then annually after. If symptoms occur before a complete cardiac evaluation, seek medical cardiovascular care immediately.
Providing Cardiac Care for Men with BMD
Whether you have BMD yourself or you’re caring for a loved one with BMD, knowing how to provide cardiac care is essential for managing BMD. We’ll cover a few key ways you can protect your heart while navigating BMD.
Learn the Signs
There are several signs or symptoms that occur as cardiomyopathy develops. Some of the signs can be easily mistaken as other symptoms of BMD itself. Knowing what to look out for can be a life-saving preventative measure to avoid advanced cardiovascular damage. According to the Mayo Clinic, cardiomyopathy symptoms include:
- Breathlessness with activity or even at rest
- Swelling of the legs, ankles, and feet
- Bloating of the abdomen due to fluid buildup
- Cough while lying down
- Difficulty lying flat to sleep
- Heartbeats that feel rapid, pounding, or fluttering
- Chest discomfort or pressure
- Dizziness, lightheadedness, and fainting
Cardiomyopathy can worsen quickly, so let your healthcare provider know about these signs as soon as they occur.
Preventative Cardiac Imaging
Whether you or your loved one has symptoms of cardiomyopathy or not, regular, preventative cardiac imaging provides you and your healthcare provider updates on heart function. EKGs, Echocardiograms, and physical examinations by a doctor are the screening methods used to diagnose and monitor heart muscle disease. Regular imagining may be able to identify risk factors before they become a problem—effectively avoiding life-threatening heart muscle complications that may occur with Becker muscular dystrophy.
Several medications can help support heart health and manage cardiovascular complications caused by BMD. Some doctors may even have men with BMD start heart medications before cardiomyopathy symptoms develop as a preventative measure. ACE inhibitors and beta blockers have been found to be the most effective when used before or as soon as heart abnormalities are detected.
Consult your doctor regarding your individual healthcare needs.
Know What To Avoid
With BMD-induced heart conditions, certain things should be avoided to protect the heart muscle. For example, certain types of anesthesia have adverse reactions in patients with BMD. Letting a surgeon know about a BMD diagnosis is vital to avoid any dangerous interactions.
While exercise is beneficial for men with BMD, strenuous exercise that causes overexertion should be avoided. Intense exercise puts unnecessary stress on the heart and exacerbates any heart conditions that may be present. As always, speak to your healthcare provider about what should be avoided in order to manage your BMD.
Prepare for Instrumental Therapy Devices or Heart Transplant
Some people with BMD may need instrumental therapy such as a pacemaker or even a heart transplant. Yearly visits with your cardiologist will keep you informed about the health of your heart and provide direction about whether these interventions will be needed. If your heart condition changes, talking with your doctor and creating a plan for your mental and physical well-being should be your top priority.
The INMD Team Is Dedicated to Researching and Improving BMD Care
Historically, Becker muscular dystrophy (BMD) has been largely neglected in therapeutic development. If you or someone you know has Becker Muscular Dystrophy, you have the unique opportunity to help bring greater understanding to this rare disease. By signing up for our observational trial, you enable researchers to gain new insights into the progression of BMD. Our online screener can help determine if the study may be a good fit for you or your loved one in just minutes.