Understanding Cardiomyopathy In Children

Cardiomyopathy is a rare, serious heart muscle disease that can lead to heart failure in severe cases. Cardiomyopathy in children affects the shape of the heart and how it functions.

While there is no cure, modern treatment options mean that, in many cases, kids can lead full and active lives. In this post, we will look at the common types of cardiomyopathies in children, how they are diagnosed, and what treatment options are available.

Types of Cardiomyopathy in Children

The three main types of cardiomyopathy that affect children are:

  • Dilated cardiomyopathy is the most common in children under the age of two. It causes the heart muscle to get thinner, which means the heart can’t pump blood effectively.
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is when the heart muscle is too thick, making it harder for blood to leave the heart. This can cause the heart to beat too fast or become weaker.
  • Restrictive cardiomyopathy is a rare condition in kids which causes the heart muscle to stiffen.

Cardiomyopathy In Children

What Causes Cardiomyopathy In Children?

There are numerous causes of cardiomyopathy in children. One of the most common is an inherited condition. So, if your family has a history of heart problems, it is worth monitoring your child’s health, whether they have symptoms or not. Your doctor will do this as part of their regular wellness exams.

Other causes of cardiomyopathy in kids include:

  • A viral infection
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Exposure to toxins
  • Chemotherapy medicines
  • Diseases in other parts of the body

What Are the Symptoms of Childhood Cardiomyopathy?

There may not be any noticeable symptoms. The initial symptoms can be confused with the common cold or flu. Sometimes, you may only notice symptoms as the condition worsens.

Here are some things to look out for:

  • Feeling very tired after everyday activities
  • A fast or irregular heart rate
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness and fainting
  • Chest pain
  • Swelling in the legs, ankles and feet

In the case of babies, you may notice difficulty with feeding or that they are spending a lot more time sleeping.

If your doctor suspects that there are any heart problems, they will use tests such as X-rays, electrocardiograms, and blood tests to check how your child’s heart is functioning.

How Is Cardiomyopathy Treated?

The type of treatment will depend on the type of cardiomyopathy and the severity of the symptoms. The aim is to help your child’s heart function properly so your child can lead as active a life as possible.

Medication is used to improve how the heart beats and lower blood pressure. It can also help eliminate extra fluid in the lungs and treat irregular heart rates.

Surgery is an option to improve blood flow and prevent irregular heartbeats. In more severe cases, your child may require a heart transplant.

Medical devices such as an implantable cardioverter defibrillator can improve blood flow and prevent irregular heart rhythms.

Next Steps

If you have concerns about your child’s heart or general health, contact your local pediatrician in Littleton today to book a check-up.