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Cardiomyopathy is usually treated with medicines. Some children may need a pacemaker or defibrillator. In rare cases, a heart transplant is needed.

If doctors can find an underlying cause, such as an infection or hormone problem, they will treat this, too. Sometimes no underlying cause can be found.

Cardiomyopathy Treatment Options


To help the heart pump better, doctors use medicines like these:

  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, which can slow the progression of the cardiomyopathy and therefore improve symptoms
  • Beta-blockers, which have the same effects as ACE inhibitors and will also slow the heart rate
  • Digoxin, which makes the heart beat slower and with more force

A diuretic can help the kidneys rid the body of extra water. This lowers the amount of fluid in the lungs to lower blood pressure and improve circulation.

Anticoagulants, or anti-clotting medicines, can help prevent or dissolve clots that might form in the heart (because the heart is dilated, so blood flows slower there and may pool).

Medicines that correct the heart rate or make an irregular heartbeat steady can be used for arrhythmia.


A pacemaker is a small device that doctors implant in the body. It uses a special battery to send electrical impulses to the heart to help it pump properly. An electrode is placed in the heart wall, and small electrical charges travel through the lead wire and tell the heart to beat.


A defibrillator is similar to a pacemaker. It continuously monitors the heart for life-threatening rhythm problems. When it detects one, it sends an electrical shock to the heart to bring it back to a normal rhythm.


The heart transplant team at Seattle Children’s performs numerous transplants each year for children with cardiomyopathy or other heart problems that cannot be controlled using other treatments. Read more about our heart transplant program.

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Summer 2014: Good Growing Newsletter

In This Issue

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  • Why Choose Pediatric Emergency Care?

Download Summer 2014 (PDF)