Heart and Blood Conditions

Cardiomyopathy Treatment

  • Schedule an appointment +

    • For appointments in Seattle, Bellevue, Everett, Federal Way, Olympia, Tri-Cities and Wenatchee, call 206-987-2515.
    • For appointments in Tacoma and Silverdale, call 253-272-1812.
    • For appointments in Alaska, call 907-339-1945.
    • How to schedule

    If this is a medical emergency, call 911.

  • Find a doctor +

  • Locations +

    • Seattle Children's Main Campus: 206-987-2515
    • Bellevue Clinic and Surgery Center: 425-454-4644
    • Everett: 425-304-6080
    • South Clinic in Federal Way: 253-838-5878
    • Olympia: 360-459-5009
    • South Sound Cardiology Clinics: 253-272-1812
    • Tri-Cities (Richland): 509-946-0976
    • Wenatchee: 509-662-9266
    • Pediatric Cardiology of Alaska: 907-339-1945
    • Seattle Children's doctors provide many cardiac services at regional sites throughout the Pacific Northwest. See our complete list of Heart Center locations.

  • Refer a patient +

    • If you are a provider, fax a New Appointment Request Form (NARF) (PDF) (DOC) to 206-985-3121 or 866-985-3121 (toll-free).
    • No pre-referral work-up is required for most conditions. If you have already done testing such as an EKG, Holter monitor or echocardiogram, please fax this information as well as relevant clinic notes and the NARF to 206-985-3121 or 866-985-3121 (toll-free).
    • Your patient will be seen as quickly as possible by the provider who is the best match for managing the current problem.
    • View our complete Heart Center Referral Information (PDF).

Cardiomyopathy is usually treated with medicines. Some children may need a pacemaker or defibrillator. Some children's hearts may be so weak that they require a machine (ventricular assist device) to help do the work of the heart. This is called mechanical circulatory support. 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 reduce the workload on the heart and can slow the progression of the cardiomyopathy.
  • Beta-blockers, which have many of 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 (such as furosemide) can help the kidneys rid the body of extra water. This lowers the amount of fluid in the lungs and other tissues, and may improve heart failure symptoms.
  • Anticoagulants, or anti-clotting medicines, can help prevent or dissolve clots that might form in the heart. When the heart is enlarged and weak, blood flow is slower and may lead to clot formation.
  • Medicines that correct the heart rate or make an irregular heartbeat normal may be needed to treat arrhythmia.


A pacemaker is a small device that doctors implant in the chest. An electrode attached to the pacemaker is placed in the heart wall, and small electrical impulses travel from a special battery through the wire to the heart, telling the heart when 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.

Ventricular assist device (VAD)

Sometimes, a child's heart can become so weak that it needs more help than medicines can provide. In these cases, cardiac surgeons can connect the child's heart to a mechanical pump that does the work of the heart. This kind of pump is called a ventricular assist device (VAD), and can be placed inside or outside the body. VADs can support either the left or right ventricle, or both. A VAD can be used for patients waiting for a heart transplant, or for patients whose heart muscle needs time to rest and recover from an injury or infection.


AJ’s Story

When a virus attacked AJ’s heart, his team at Seattle Children’s recommended a ventricular assist device (VAD). The CentriMag pump allowed his heart to rest, heal and recover.


The heart transplant team at Seattle Children's performs many 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.

Contact Us

Contact the Heart Center at 206-987-2015 for a cardiac referral, a second opinion or more information.