Each type of cardiomyopathy has treatment goals that are specific to how the heart muscle is affected. While it is not possible to reverse or cure cardiomyopathy, current treatment options can control the symptoms associated with the disease.
Overall, the goal of treatment is to restore a child to the best possible health with the least amount of intervention. Because cardiomyopathy varies in its presentation, each child requires an individualized treatment plan that is based on certain factors:
- Child's age
- Overall health
- Medical history
- Type of cardiomyopathy
- Stage of the disease
- Tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
A multidisciplinary care team is key to getting the best treatment possible. Ideally, a child’s care team should include a pediatric cardiologist, geneticist, and possibly a cardiothoracic surgeon and/or electrophysiologist. Other healthcare professionals that may also be involved include a cardiac nurse, genetic counselor, child life specialist, social worker, neurologist, psychiatrist, gastroenterologist, nutritionist, and occupational or physical therapist.
Most treatments for cardiomyopathy are designed to minimize symptoms and improve heart function by decreasing the workload on the heart and allowing it to deliver oxygen and blood to the body more efficiently. Another treatment priority is to control dangerous arrhythmias that could cause sudden cardiac arrest.
The most common treatment options are:
- Daily medication
- Implantable cardiac devices
- Surgical procedure
Medication is often the first course of treatment, and the choice of medication depends on the child's type of cardiomyopathy, symptoms, and heart function. An implantable device (pacemaker or defibrillator) may be recommended if an abnormal heartbeat is detected. Surgery (myectomy or mitral valve repair) may be recommended for older children when symptoms cannot be controlled by medication.
Heart Failure Treatment
If the disease progresses to heart failure, more aggressive interventions in hospital may be necessary.
Treatment for progressive heart failure include:
- Ventilatory support (intubation)
- Intravenous medication (dobutamine, dopamine)
- Ventricular assist devices (LVAD, BIVAD)
- Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO)
Children with advanced and progressive cardiomyopathy may require a heart transplant if they have persistent symptoms of congestive heart failure and no longer respond to standard treatment.
For more information about treatments for each form of cardiomyopathy, please visit our Educational Materials page for downloadable inserts.