Cardiomyopathy is a chronic heart condition that involves the deterioration of the heart muscle (myocardium). The heart muscle becomes abnormally enlarged, thickened and/or stiffened. Eventually the heart is unable to pump effectively and cannot supply the body with enough blood to function. In severe cases, cardiomyopathy can lead to heart failure or sudden death.
There are five forms of cardiomyopathy, and these include dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), restrictive cardiomyopathy (RCM), arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARCM), and left ventricular non-compaction cardiomyopathy (LVNC).
RISK OF SUDDEN CARDIAC ARREST
Children with certain forms of cardiomyopathy can be at risk of irregular heart rhythms that may lead to sudden cardiac arrest. Because the disease can be present without symptoms, families should be aware of family members who have heart disease or who died unexpectedly before age 50.
Recognizing the warning signs of cardiomyopathy is important. If a child experiences chest pain or discomfort upon exertion, unexplained fainting or near fainting, excessive fatigue associated with exercise, or unusually fast heartbeat, they should be referred to a pediatric cardiologist for a more extensive cardiac evaluation. To learn more about the risk factors associated with cardiomyopathy, click here.
Additional resources on pediatric cardiomyopathy can be found on our educational materials page.