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Heart Failure/Cardiomyopathy Program

Cardiomyopathy is a disease of the heart muscle that decreases the heart’s ability to pump blood, which can lead to heart failure. It’s a disease that impacts infants, children and young adults. The heart muscles become enlarged or weakened, preventing it from working as well as it should.

The Heart Failure/Cardiomyopathy Program at Children’s Hospital New Orleans (CHNOLA), has an expert interdisciplinary team under the well-established cardiology program that offers state-of-the-art expert care to help you and your child live well with cardiomyopathy, from infancy to age 18 and into early adulthood.

About the program

If your child has been diagnosed with cardiomyopathy or carries a risk of developing cardiomyopathy, we are here to offer expert diagnosis, ongoing treatment, and support. By catching and treating cardiomyopathy early, we can control your child’s symptoms, slow or stop its progress, and avoid complications.

We specialize in diagnosing and managing all forms of cardiomyopathy in children, including the three most common types of heart muscle disease:

  • Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM)
  • Restrictive Cardiomyopathy (RCM)
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM)

Each of these can cause the heart muscle to get larger, thicken, or become stiff. CHNOLA’s program offers life-saving mechanical circulatory support options such as extra-corporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) and the Impella cardiac device for patients in end stage heart failure with hemodynamic compromise.

This program also cares for kids with a family history of congenital heart disease (heart defects present at birth) that can lead to problems with the heart muscle.

Cardiomyopathy diagramWhat is Cardiomyopathy?

Cardiomyopathy is a condition that affects the structure and function of the heart muscle. There are several forms of the disease, and each one has a variety of possible causes and symptoms.

Cardiomyopathy differs from many other heart problems in that it can affect children, tends to worsen fairly quickly, may be associated with diseases involving organs other than the heart, can be undetectable before suddenly presenting itself, and it’s the leading cause for pediatric heart transplants.

In cases where the heart isn’t able to pump blood well, children with cardiomyopathy may have pale, sweaty skin and feel fatigue, shortness of breath, chest pain, irregular or rapid heartbeat, dizziness, or fainting, and may be irritable. Some children may feel just fine and have no symptoms despite having cardiomyopathy. Others may have a normal heart but be at risk of developing cardiomyopathy over time.

What causes Cardiomyopathy?

Viral infections in the heart and genetic factors are a common cause of cardiomyopathy, but often, the exact cause is unknown, which is called idiopathic.

Some causes for cardiomyopathy include:

  • Genes
  • Viral infections
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart rhythm problems
  • Congenital heart defects
  • Certain medicines

A child may have one of these conditions for years without knowing it or having symptoms. Some heart conditions are caused by genetic abnormalities passed down through families. When children are diagnosed with these conditions, we typically recommend their close family members be evaluated by a cardiologist, too.

How do we treat Cardiomyopathy?

We offer treatment options that are individualized for each child, with a strong emphasis on quality of life. Unlike other congenital heart conditions, there is currently no surgical or medical treatment to repair the damaged heart.

In some cases, the heart of a child or adult with a cardiomyopathy will become progressively weaker. This can lead to heart failure (difficulty breathing, difficulty eating, excessive sweating and poor growth). However, in some cases, cardiomyopathies can be treated with medications that help prolong health and decrease the progression of the disease.

Treatment options may include:

  • Medication to improve the functioning of the heart
  • Surgery to remove obstruction of enlarged heart muscle
  • Defibrillators (ICD) for cardiomyopathy patients with arrhythmia (irregular heart rhythm)
  • Ventricular assist devices
  • Heart transplant for children who do not respond well to medical management

Our approach to care

We are dedicated to providing the best quality care for children with potential life-threatening heart disease and giving them the best chance for survival. We do this through offering:

  • Multidisciplinary team approach. We bring together pediatric cardiologists, cardiothoracic surgeons, cardio-geneticists, cardiac intensive care specialists, nurse practitioners, nurses, pediatric psychologists, dietitians, and social workers to provide well-rounded care for your child and family. We also collaborate with specialists across our hospital to treat cardiomyopathy.
  • Evidence-based practices. We have proven, accredited experts focused on outcomes-based care, and our physicians are performing cutting-edge advanced research on cardiomyopathy and working with international research collaboratives so that your child may benefit from new treatments.
  • Innovative initiatives. We improve care in cardiomyopathy patients with mechanical support devices in heart failure and performing genetic testing for identifying familial disease in cardiomyopathy.
  • Collaborating with other subspecialty disciplines. We provide specialized expertise from a variety of areas of areas, including Hematology/Oncology patients, to provide complete care and a medical home or all our patients’ needs.

Why choose our Heart Failure/Cardiomyopathy Program?

Our Heart Disease/Cardiomyopathy Program diagnoses and manages patients from before birth to age 21 who either currently have cardiomyopathy or have a family history of it. As part of the program, your child will have access to comprehensive care from our multidisciplinary team of experts.

We are guided by our responsibility to our patients, their outcomes and their quality of life.

Our team consists of board certified pediatric cardiothoracic surgeons, pediatric cardiologists, cardiac specialty nurse practitioners and other nurses who are skilled experts in the field of pediatric cardiology. Our team members are among the best in the country in the treatment of cardiomyopathies. They work together to ensure your entire family receives the best care.

At Children's Hospital New Orleans, we offer the full spectrum of care for your child from a multidisciplinary team of pediatric doctors and professionals with extra training and knowledge in managing pediatric cardiomyopathy. By providing several holistic services and treatments, we empower your child and your family to live your best lives, despite this chronic disease.

We provide both inpatient and outpatient consultation for diagnosis, management and prognosis of all types of heart failure/cardiomyopathy. Some of the more common forms include:

  • Failed congenital heart disease repair
  • Primary and secondary dilated cardiomyopathy
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
  • Restrictive cardiomyopathy
  • Left ventricular non-compaction
  • Cardiomyopathy associated with neurologic/genetic disorders

In addition, we are able to use the best in cardiac assessment for evaluating patients, which includes cardiac echocardiography with 3D modalities, cardiac CT scan and cardiac MRI.

Services offered through our Cardiomyopathy Program include:

  • advanced diagnostic testing
  • individualized medication regimens
  • family screening and genetic assessment
  • implantable automatic defibrillator placement
  • ventricular assist device placement
  • surgical evaluation
  • heart transplantation
  • customized second opinion evaluation and care plan
  • partnership and collaboration with each family's local pediatrician and/ or cardiac caregiver

Children’s Hospital New Orleans

Cardiology Clinic
200 Henry Clay Ave.
New Orleans, LA 70003
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