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The term cardiomyopathy refers to a series of conditions that affect the heart muscle (or myocardium). There are two kinds of cardiomyopathy. Abnormal heart muscles cause primary cardiomyopathy. Secondary cardiomyopathy is caused when other diseases damage the heart muscle.
Cardiomyopathies are more common in children than previously thought. Furthermore, children may not show cardiomyopathy on testing, but may have high risk of developing it based on their family history and genetic predisposition. The most common cardiomyopathies in children are dilated (enlarged and weaken hearts) or hypertrophic (thick and stiff hearts).
Symptoms vary based on the type of cardiomyopathy. For those with either dilated or hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, the signs are similar to congestive heart failure.
In babies, symptoms may include:
In older children and teens, common symptoms are:
Sometimes cardiomyopathy has no symptoms, especially in its earliest stages. The condition may be discovered during tests for another health issue or a sports physical. These patients often benefit from medications and regular visits with a cardiologist who specializes in congenital heart defects.
If cardiomyopathy is secondary and caused by an infection, patients may notice fever, chills and achiness before heart-related symptoms appear.
If your doctor suspects your child has a form of cardiomyopathy, diagnosis begins with a health history, a physical examination and possibly blood test. Other tests may include:
Treatments vary based on the type and severity of the cardiomyopathy. A child without symptoms may be monitored through regular checkups and tests. In more complex cases, several options may be considered:
Visit the websites below to find support groups, services and learn more about cardiomyopathy.
Riley at IU Health offers a broad range of supportive services to make life better for families who choose us for their children's care.
This not-for-profit organization supports adults living with congenital heart disease and works with health professionals to distribute helpful information to patients, parents and caregivers.
The American College of Cardiology provides educational resources to support people living with congenital and cardiovascular disease, including cardiomyopathy.
This U.S. government website offers health information to help parents and caregivers research conditions such as cardiomyopathy.
This National Institute of Health website provides information to the public about living with cardiomyopathy.
Clinical research is vital to finding new tests to help with diagnosis and new treatments. Our pediatric cardiologists actively participate in many studies at a local and national level, including research funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Program Project—a major institution that studies the cause and treatment of heart conditions. Cardiologists at Riley at IU Health may ask whether you are interested in volunteering your child for participation in clinical studies.