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Cardiomyopathy is a disease of the heart muscle characterized by an abnormally large, thickened, and/or stiffened heart muscle. It may affect only the heart’s lower chambers (ventricles) or both the lower and upper chambers (atria).
Cardiomyopathy causes damage to tissue surrounding the heart as well as heart muscle cells. In severe cases, the heart becomes so weak that it cannot pump blood properly. This can lead to heart failure and/ or irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias or dysrhythmia).
In some cases, cardiomyopathy also involves a buildup of scar tissue or fat within the heart muscle. Rarely, the heart muscle loses the ability to relax and blood cannot fill the heart properly.
Cardiomyopathy is very often a “time will tell” disease. It can present in a multitude of ways and in each case, the progression of the disease can be unpredictable. Your child’s course of treatment and long-term outlook will depend greatly upon:
Information on the following pages will help you, your child and your family gain a better understanding of cardiomyopathy and a clearer picture of what to expect in the weeks and months ahead.
There are many different forms of cardiomyopathy. The primary forms are:
Cardiomyopathy: Reviewed by Renee Margossian, MD
© Boston Children's Hospital; posted in 2010
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