Childhood Heart Conditions

Normally, the heart is very strong and can pump oxygen-rich blood to all parts of the body. When the heart becomes weak and cannot pump enough blood to the body, fluid can back up into the lungs, liver and legs and is reduced to the rest of the body. This known as congestive heart failure. Common heart conditions that can lead to heart failure in children include the following:


Cardiomyopathy is a weakened or damaged and enlarged heart muscle. Some children are born with healthy hearts that become weak for reasons we do not always understand or they may be caused from a serious viral infection or can run in families (genetic). There are many types of oral and intravenous medications that can be used to treat cardiomyopathy and some children can be treated successfully for many years. However, since there is no cure or surgical treatment for cardiomyopathy, a heart transplant may be necessary if medications no longer treat the condition. 

Congenital heart disease

Some children are born with structural malformations of the heart called congenital heart disease (CHD). Most of these heart defects can be surgically repaired and children go on to lead normal lives. There are more serious forms of CHD such as hypoplastic left heart syndrome, tricuspid atresia or other conditions where there is absence of one of the pumping heart chambers. Surgery may be able to reroute the blood flow so the heart can pump blood and oxygen to the body. A heart transplant may be needed if the abnormally formed heart becomes weak in spite of medicines and surgery.

The transplant team will evaluate your child’s heart thoroughly and may offer a different type of surgery or medication regimen to treat his/her condition. We will only recommend a heart transplant if there is no other safe option.