Penn Heart and Vascular

Overview of the Familial Cardiomyopathy Program

Personalized Treatment for Cardiomyopathies

Heart conditions caused by genetic abnormalities can be passed down through families. When adults or children are diagnosed with these heart conditions, it is important to have a doctor evaluate other family members.

Penn Medicine has partnered with the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) to create a special program for patients with inherited cardiomyopathies. Through the Familial Cardiomyopathy Program, teams from Penn Medicine and CHOP work together to ensure that patients and their entire families receive the best care possible.

Cardiomyopathies are diseases in which the heart muscle becomes enlarged or weakened, preventing it from working as well as it should. There are different types of cardiomyopathy and specific types can run in families:

  • Dilated cardiomyopathy: The pumping chambers of the heart are abnormally large and weak.
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy: The pumping chambers of the heart become abnormally thick.
  • Arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy: The right pumping chamber becomes abnormally large and weak.
  • Non-compaction cardiomyopathy: The walls of the heart muscle fail to develop normally.

Signs and Symptoms of Cardiomyopathy

Someone may have a cardiomyopathy for years without knowing it or experiencing any signs or symptoms. Without treatment, all types of cardiomyopathy have the potential to develop signs or symptoms, and those symptoms may get worse over time. For some people, the symptoms can get worse quickly. For others, cardiomyopathy may take a long time for symptoms to increase. Cardiomyopathy can lead to heart failure, abnormal heart rhythms, and sometimes sudden death.

Risk of Cardiomyopathy

Cardiomyopathies make it harder for the heart to pump blood and deliver it to the rest of the body. If one person in a family is diagnosed, it is important that a cardiologist evaluate other family members to assess their risk. Each type of cardiomyopathy is treated differently.

In most cases, the family members do not have cardiomyopathies. Evaluation by the Familial Cardiomyopathy Program can identify those family members who are affected and provide them with the best treatment from two nationally recognized cardiac care teams.

The cardiomyopathy teams from CHOP and Penn Medicine are among the best in the country in the treatment and management of cardiomyopathies and heart failure.

A Team with Exceptional Breadth and Depth

The familial cardiomyopathy team is comprised of some of the world's finest physicians and surgeons from:

  • Anesthesiology
  • Cardiology
  • Cardiovascular surgery
  • Cardiac catheterization
  • Electrophysiology
  • Genetics
  • Heart failure
  • Imaging services
  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Reproductive services (pre-pregnancy counseling and prenatal care)
  • Transplantation

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