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Some forms of cardiomyopathy run in families. Anyone with a family history of cardiomyopathy, heart attack, or arrhythmias should be screened. Today, genetic testing can detect 50 percent of cases. Other times, cardiomyopathy develops because of another medical condition (like undergoing chemotherapy for certain childhood cancers). In many cases, however, there is no clear cause for a child’s cardiomyopathy.
Some children with cardiomyopathy display few to no signs of illness at first, while others may be seriously affected by shortness of breath, dizziness and other symptoms from the beginning. Sometimes, children with cardiomyopathy need a heart transplant. Cardiomyopathy is the No. 1 reason for heart transplants in children.
Many children with dilated cardiomyopathy do not display symptoms; the disease is sometimes diagnosed coincidentally—for example, when the child has an echocardiogram for another reason, such as a heart murmur.
However, when symptoms do emerge, they may include one or more of the following:
It’s important to note that in many cases, dilated cardiomyopathy occurs without a known reason. If your child’s disease has no identifiable cause, it is called an idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy.
When the cause can be determined, reasons include:
Some less common causes of dilated cardiomyopathy are:
Children with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy may experience symptoms during physical exertion, but their symptoms can also come on suddenly and unpredictably. Common warning signs include:
Early detection can widen treatment options significantly, especially medical treatment options.
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy has a strong inherited component. At least half of all children with this form of the disease have a parent or sibling with some degree of enlargement in their heart muscle, although these family members may not experience any symptoms themselves.
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy results from a defect in the genes that control the manufacture of the proteins of the heart muscle.
Arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy is often difficult to diagnose because many people never display warning signs, and can function with almost no disruption to their daily activities unless or until they have an acute onset of symptoms.
A person will usually show clear signs of having the condition when they are young (either as children, as teens or as adults under the age of 40). Commonly, the diagnosis is made by cardiovascular magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
When symptoms are noticeable, they can include:
Arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy frequently runs in families. At least 30 to 50 percent of all people with this form of cardiomyopathy also have family members with the disease. Researchers are working to identify precisely which gene mutations and chromosomes are involved in the onset of arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy.
Symptoms of restrictive cardiomyopathy can vary greatly from child to child. Many children will show no noticeable symptoms, others will have very mild symptoms and still others will demonstrate clear warning signs that become progressively worse if the disease is not treated.
When they are noticeable, restrictive cardiomyopathy symptoms can include:
Causes of restrictive cardiomyopathy may include:
Restrictive cardiomyopathy is not typically inherited. Many children have what is called idiopathic restrictive cardiomyopathy, meaning there is no identifiable cause for their disease.
We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”