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.

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

In most cases, the family members do not have cardiomyopathies. An evaluation 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.

Experience patients can rely on

We are proud to be listed as an HCM Center of Excellence by the Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Association, and are the only such program in Philadelphia to receive this designation. Patients can expect a great experience because:

  • Teams of experienced cardiologists from two nationally recognized medical centers treat both children and adults diagnosed with cardiomyopathies.
  • Penn's Heart Failure and Transplantation Program includes doctors, nurses and genetic counselors with expertise in diagnosing and treating cardiomyopathies in adults.
  • Genetic counselors provide counseling for the whole family and genetic testing as needed.
  • Penn has received the Get With The Guidelines®— Heart Failure Gold Quality Achievement Award from the American Heart Association.
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