Pediatric Cardiomyopathies

Updated:Feb 26,2018

Grandfather ands boy on beachPatient education material brought to you by the American Heart Association and the Children’s Cardiomyopathy Foundation.

In most cases, the diagnosis of "cardiomyopathy" in a child elicits concern in both the child (if old enough to understand) and the parent. Much of this concern is because the disease is relatively rare in children and not as well publicized as other disease states like the common cold, otitis media (ear infection), stomach flu, strep throat or other common childhood afflictions.

Fortunately, our understanding of how the heart works under normal and abnormal conditions is increasing each year. Written by a panel of recognized experts, this Web site brochure familiarizes children and/or their parents with the basic concepts of cardiomyopathy from its definition to the latest potential treatment options. Hopefully, armed with this knowledge, you and your child will be less fearful of this diagnosis as you move forward with your child’s physician toward a treatment plan.

What is cardiomyopathy?

The term "cardiomyopathy" refers to a diseased state of the heart involving abnormalities of the muscle fibers, which contract with each heartbeat. It is considered a primary problem when it occurs because the muscle cells themselves are abnormal (usually due to a gene mutation). It is a secondary problem when the muscle cells were normal but are affected by other diseases that have secondary damaging effects on the heart and its function such as certain infections, low blood flow to the heart, low blood oxygen or high blood pressure.

According to the Pediatric Cardiomyopathy Registry, one in every 100,000 children in the U.S. under the age of 18 is diagnosed with cardiomyopathy. The majority of diagnosed children are under 12 months followed by children 12 to 18 years old.  Because the clinical features and therapies differ, it is best to separate this disease into four broad types: dilated (or congestive), hypertrophic, restrictive and "miscellaneous."

Learn about the different types of cardiomyopathies:

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