Cardiomyopathy

Getting a diagnosis of cardiomyopathy can feel overwhelming for families, particularly since many types of cardiomyopathy are genetic. At Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, we diagnose and treat all types of cardiomyopathy.

We also offer sports screening for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

What Is Cardiomyopathy?

Cardiomyopathy is a primary disease of the heart muscle. It can be due to genetics, metabolic or caused by other conditions. Children with cardiomyopathy may tire easily and have poor growth as their heart struggles to pump enough blood to support the body's needs.

Some types of cardiomyopathy can cause sudden death in otherwise young, healthy children and young athletes.

While cardiomyopathy isn’t typically curable, an accurate diagnosis and early treatment can reduce symptoms and control the condition’s progression. We successfully treat children for cardiomyopathy and help families obtain screening for other family members.

Types of Cardiomyopathy

Types of cardiomyopathy most common in children include:

  • Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM): DCM is the most common type of cardiomyopathy in both children and adults. The heart muscle becomes weak, and the chambers become enlarged. As a result, the heart cannot pump enough blood out to the body. DCM can run in families and be “familial.” About 20 to 30 percent of children with DCM have inherited it.
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM): With HCM, the heart muscle becomes thick, making it harder for blood to leave the heart and harder for the heart to fill with blood. This condition can be associated with severe arrhythmia and sudden death. About 50 to 60 percent of children with HCM have a relative with the condition.
  • Noncompaction cardiomyopathy: Also called spongiform cardiomyopathy, this cardiomyopathy occurs when a baby’s heart muscle does not develop. New imaging techniques allow us to diagnose and treat noncompaction more effectively than in the past.
  • Restrictive cardiomyopathy (RCM): The least common cardiomyopathy in children, RCM causes the heart muscle to stiffen, which prevents the heart chambers from properly filling with blood. RCM can be associated with systemic diseases that affect other organs.

How We Care for Children With Cardiomyopathy

We aim to help families facing a cardiomyopathy diagnosis in every way we can. That is why we offer:

  • CCF AccreditationExpert care: We have one of the fastest-growing cardiomyopathy programs in the state, with nationally recognized experts in pediatric cardiology, and have been recognized as an accredited center of care by The Children's Cardiomyopathy Foundation (CCF). Cardiologists from around the region refer children to us who need further evaluation and treatment. You and your child will be able to see the specialists you need, at one time and in one place. This includes: 
    • Cardiologists who specialize in cardiomyopathy and heart failure
    • Electrophysiologists, who specialize in the heart’s electrical system
    • Cardiac imaging cardiologists
    • Geneticists
    • Other subspecialties as needed
  • Multiple treatment options: We offer a full suite of treatment options for cardiomyopathy:
    • Lifestyle changes, medications and implantable devices can help control arrhythmias, help manage symptoms, prevent sudden death and slow the progression of disease.
    • For children whose symptoms worsen, we have a comprehensive heart failure program.
    • We offer heart transplant for children with severe cardiomyopathy and related complications
  • Focus on screening young athletes: More schools are requiring children to have an EKG before they participate in sports, because certain types of cardiomyopathy often don’t have symptoms in young people. Learn about our sports heart screening for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
  • Genetic testing and counseling: As part of our evaluation, we offer genetic testing to eligible patients because many types of cardiomyopathy have a genetic component. We can work with families to help them assess risk and learn about genetic factors. Find out more about genetic evaluation and counseling.

Contact Us

To schedule an appointment or learn about our award-winning pediatric heart team, call 954-265-3437.