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Cook Children's Heart Center
Cook Children's Heart Center - Because childhood should be simple

CardiomyopathyCook Children's


There are many different types of cardiomyopathies and depending on the type, cardiomyopathy disease can cause the heart muscle to thicken, degenerate, enlarge or become rigid. Even though the defects are formed in utero (before the baby is born), some may not be diagnosed until a child is born, or even well after that, into adulthood.

Heart Center
Cardiomyopathies are a major cause of sudden cardiac arrest and sudden cardiac death. To learn more about what you can do to protect your child at home, at school and during sports, click here.

What they all have in common is that they interfere with the heart's ability to receive and/or pump blood, ultimately weakening the heart and possibly leading to heart failure.

There are multiple signs and symptoms related to cardiomyopathy and some people may experience more than one. Some people never experience any symptoms or complications. However, cardiomyopathy is a chronic—and often progressive—disease. Cardiomyopathy is also one of the leading causes of sudden death in children.

Children diagnosed with a cardiomyopathy disorder will need to be seen by a pediatric cardiologist on an ongoing basis. Because the heart grows as the body grows, our patients at Cook Children's continue with us into adulthood until their hearts reach full maturity. Not only are we a Heart Center, we are also centered on the well-being of our patients and their families for the long-term.

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Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM)

Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), sometimes called congestive cardiomyopathy, is the most common type of cardiomyopathy diagnosed in children. In this type of disorder, the muscle in one or both of the ventricles becomes very thin. This causes the ventricle to enlarge, which interferes with the heart’s ability to pump blood.

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Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) usually occurs in the left ventricle of the heart. The muscle thickens or enlarges, often affecting the wall between the left and right ventricle. The heart cannot beat properly, interrupting, and in some cases blocking, blood flow into and out of the heart. The cell inside the thickened muscles also become irregular and may interfere with the electrical impulses that signal the heart chambers, causing your child to experience abnormal heart rhythms.

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Left ventricular noncompaction

Left ventricular noncompaction (LVNC) is a rare genetic disease in which muscle doesn't develop properly, forming bundles of muscle that are spongy. In normal development the muscles compact, becoming smooth, but in cases of LVNC the muscles remain spongy and can interfere with the pumping action of the heart, sometimes causing abnormal heart rhythms.

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Arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy

Arrhythmogenic right ventricular (ARVC) is a very rare disorder, especially in children, where the muscle cells in the right ventricle break down and muscle tissue is replaced with fatty or scar tissue. In order to pump blood, the heart has to receive and fill with blood. The scar tissue interrupts the heart's electrical impulses, interfering with its ability to receive and fill with blood.

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Restrictive cardiomyopathy

Restrictive cardiomyopathy (RCM) is rare, occurring in only three to five percent of children who are diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, or less than one in every 1,000,000 children. RCM causes the walls of the heart to stiffen, making it increasingly difficult for them to expand and contract and restricting the heart's ability to fill with blood. The heart continues to pump normally but the lack of blood supply places increased pressure on the upper heart chambers and, as a result, they become enlarged. This process can cause the blood in the ventricles to flow backward into the lungs and cause heart failure.

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Genetic testing

If you or any member of your family has been diagnosed, or if your child has been diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, your family members may be candidates for genetic screening.


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We're here to help.

If your child has been diagnosed, you probably have lots of questions. We can help. For resources, education or more information on support, click here. If you would like to schedule an appointment, refer a patient or speak to our staff, please call our offices at 682-885-2140.

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