Cardiomyopathy in Children

Cardiomyopathy in children is an extremely rare condition that affects the heart of infants and young children. In this condition, the muscles of the heart are affected and this interferes with the regular functioning of the heart. Cardiomyopathy affects different children differently. Moreover, there are different types of this condition. Some children may show no symptoms whereas others may show symptoms such as fatigue, rapid heartbeat, etc. Cardiomyopathy is a progressive heart condition that can be life-threatening if not diagnosed or treated.

In general, some of the common problems that occur as a result of this condition are fatigue, heart block, irregular heartbeats, heart failure, cardiac arrest, etc. In general, most patients of Cardiomyopathy suffer from nonischemic pediatric cardiomyopathy that involves structural damage to the heart muscle which impairs its ability to pump blood efficiently.

A research conducted by the Pediatric Cardiomyopathy Registry has shown that in 79% of all the cases of Cardiomyopathy in children, the cause of the condition is unknown. Rainbow Children’s Heart Institute, top heart hospitals in Hyderabad, offers treatment and care for this condition. It is one of the top causes of a heart transplant in infants and children. Treatment is essential for a child or infant with this condition. If left untreated, the patient can develop serious problems that may lead to the formation of blood clots, irregular heartbeats, and even heart failure.  

Types of Cardiomyopathy in Children 

Cardiomyopathy is essentially an abnormality of the heart muscles. There are different ways in which the heart muscle can be damaged or abnormal that leads to the heart unable to pump blood the way it is supposed to. The different types of Cardiomyopathy in children are:

  • Thinner than normal heart muscle – This is known as dilated cardiomyopathy and is one of the most common types of this condition seen in infants and children. 
  • Thicker than normal heart muscle – This is called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. 
  • Stiffer than normal heart muscles – This is known as restrictive cardiomyopathy and is an extremely rare condition that is seldom seen in children. 

Signs and Symptoms of Cardiomyopathy in Children

Detecting signs and symptoms of cardiomyopathy can be difficult in the early years of a child as the condition may be asymptomatic. Moreover, symptoms vary according to the type of cardiomyopathy. Some of the common symptoms of Cardiomyopathy in children are:

  • Fatigue – Frequent tiredness without much physical work or exercise. 
  • Shortness of breath – Difficulty in breathing and shortness of breath regularly and without or minimal physical work. 
  • Chest Pain – Frequent chest pain mixed along with any of the above two symptoms can be a major indicator that your child may have Cardiomyopathy. 

These are some of the symptoms that may be visible and detectable in almost all types of Cardiomyopathy. If your child shows any of these symptoms, it is best to consult the best child Cardiologist in Hyderabad at Rainbow Children’s Heart Institute, top heart hospitals in India to diagnose any problem and ensure that they get the best treatment possible. 

Additionally, some of the other symptoms that can be used to detect a problem in the heart in some specific types of Cardiomyopathy are: 

  • Arrhythmias or Irregular Heart Beats – Abnormally fast or slow heartbeats can be a cause for concern. 
  • Chest Pain – Any discomfort in the chest area and sharp chest pain. 
  • Swelling in the legs and ankles – Cardiomyopathy can also lead to fluid buildup in the lower region of the body. 
  • Dizziness or Fainting – If your child suffers from dizzy spells or faints frequently, it could be a sign of Cardiomyopathy. 

Causes of Cardiomyopathy in Children 

Pediatric Cardiomyopathy can occur in children due to several reasons. However, most cases occur for unknown reasons. Researchers have discovered that certain genes and genetic disruptions can be a reason behind Cardiomyopathy in infants and children. More than 300 genetic mutations have been discovered that result in some form of Cardiomyopathy in children. In most cases, Cardiomyopathy in children is hereditary and runs in the family. If this condition has been diagnosed in some family members, it is advisable to get tested at Rainbow Children’s Heart Institute to rule out the condition. If any member has it, an early diagnosis can help control and treat the condition. Here are some of the possible causes of Cardiomyopathy in children:

  • Metabolic Disorders in other parts of the heart
  • Inheriting the Condition from parent/s 
  • Nutritional Deficiencies 
  • Coronary Artery Disease
  • Exposure to Toxins
  • Viral Infection
  • Chemotherapy Drugs 

Diagnosis of Cardiomyopathy in Children 

A thorough checkup performed by doctors at Rainbow Children’s Heart Institute, top heart hospitals in India, can help in diagnosing Cardiomyopathy in your child. Doctors will use the following methods to diagnose the condition:

  • Clinical Evaluation – Doctors will look at the data present to ascertain the likeliness of the condition. 
  • Physical Checkup – A physical checkup will help in identifying the characteristic symptoms of Cardiomyopathy occurring in children. Some of the characteristics that are looked for are abnormally fast or slow heart rate, fast and irregular breathing, swelling and bloating from fluid buildup, below normal diet, and poor weight gain in infants and toddlers. 
  • Patient and Family History – As in most cases, Cardiomyopathy is inherited, the best child Cardiologist in Hyderabad will also check the patient as well as family history. 
  • Tests – Tests such as Cardiac Catheterization, Radionuclide Ventriculogram, and Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) may also be performed. 

Treatment of Cardiomyopathy in Children 

Cardiomyopathy cannot be cured but treatment can help manage the symptoms and treat the disease. Symptoms can be controlled using medications and complications can be avoided by taking proper precautions. Treatment mainly depends on two factors:

  • Type of Cardiomyopathy 
  • The stage at which the condition is diagnosed

Some of the treatment procedures for Cardiomyopathy in children include:

  • Medications that help in improving the functions of the heart. 
  • Cardiac implants such as Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator to regulate erratic heartbeat.
  • Myectomy, a surgical procedure that relieves the symptoms.
  • Heart transplant.