Pediatric Cardiomyopathy Program

Dr. Laurie Armsby with a pediatric heart patient
Dr. Laurie Armsby, a pediatric cardiologist, specializes in caring for children with enlarged or weakened hearts. She is also a leader in training other doctors. She directs our pediatric cardiology fellowship program, and she contributed to national recommendations for training in the field.

OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital provides complete, team-based care for children with thickened, weak or enlarged hearts. We also offer a smooth transition to adult care when needed.

Our cardiomyopathy program includes:

  • The largest, most experienced team of children’s heart specialists in Oregon and southwest Washington.
  • Advanced imaging and testing for a quick, accurate diagnosis.
  • The latest treatments and techniques to help your child feel better faster.
  • Genetic testing and counselors to identify relatives who might be at risk.
  • Oregon’s only specialty clinics for treating hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and heart failure.

Learn about cardiomyopathy and other acquired heart conditions in children.

Dr. Seshadri Balaji with a family
Dr. Seshadri Balaji (right), a nationally recognized expert in
treating children with thickened heart muscles, co-leads
Doernbecher’s cardiomyopathy program.

Team-based care

We have two children’s heart specialists who are experts in cardiomyopathy:

  • Dr. Laurie Armsby treats children with enlarged hearts (dilated cardiomyopathy).
  • Dr. Seshadri Balaji treats children with thick hearts (hypertrophic cardiomyopathy) and muscle disease that mostly affects the right side of the heart (arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy).

Your child’s care team also may include specialists in:

  • Heart rhythm
  • Heart catheterization
  • Heart surgery
  • Imaging
  • Genetics
  • Intensive care
  • Other related health issues

Complete care: Our pediatric specialists work with experts at the OHSU Knight Cardiovascular Institute to care for children with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a complex form of cardiomyopathy.

Care near home: As Oregon’s only academic health center, OHSU is a statewide resource for pediatricians, parents and children with cardiomyopathy. Our specialists can talk with your child’s doctor so your child can receive much of their care in your community.

Diagram of different types of cardiomyopathy, compared to a normal heart
Doernbecher’s cardiomyopathy program, led by pediatric cardiologist Sheshadri Balaji, treats all forms of pediatric cardiomyopathy.

Diagnosis

Cardiomyopathy can affect the heart in many ways. It can limit blood flow and cause irregular heart rhythms. In serious cases, it can lead to heart failure. We use a range of tests to understand your child’s unique heart structure, blood flow and rhythm. This helps us recommend the most effective care plan.  

At Doernbecher, you’ll find:

  • State-of-the-art diagnostic techniques, including advanced cardiac imaging.
  • Child-friendly labs designed for comfort and safety.
  • Coordinated testing in our on-site labs for faster results.
  • A family-oriented approach to inherited cardiomyopathies.
  • Scientists who take part in national studies to improve the care of children with cardiomyopathies.

Your child’s tests may include:

  • Echocardiogram
  • Heart rhythm testing, such as:
    • An electrocardiogram
    • An electrophysiology study
    • A portable monitor
  • Exercise tests
  • Heart catheterization
  • CT (computed tomography) scans
  • Cardiac MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
  • Genetic tests

Genetic and clinical testing for your family: Cardiomyopathy often runs in families. Your care team may recommend tests, including genetic testing, for close relatives. Identifying others who are at risk may prevent serious heart problems. Our experienced and certified genetic counselors can explain options.

Treatment

Treatment for cardiomyopathy depends on the type and specific symptoms. Our doctors are national leaders in cardiomyopathy research, and can bring the latest advances to your child’s care.

Treatments may include:

Monitoring: Children with mild forms may not need treatment. We will provide regular tests and doctor visits to catch any problems early.

Medication: A variety of medications can help a child’s heart beat regularly and efficiently. Many children can stay on medication for a long time and need no other treatment. Your child’s doctor will talk with you about which medications are best for your child.

Pacemaker: If medication doesn’t keep a child’s heart rhythm under control, the care team may recommend implanting a pacemaker in the chest. This small device sends electrical signals to keep the heart beating at a regular rate.

Implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD): If a child is at risk of a sudden life-threatening heart rhythm problem, a surgeon can implant a small ICD device in the chest. If the heart stops or beats out of control, the ICD shocks it back into a regular rhythm.

Myectomy: If the heart muscle is too thick (hypertrophic cardiomyopathy), it can obstruct blood flow out of the heart. During a myectomy, a surgeon removes some of the extra muscle to improve blood flow. Many children feel much better after the surgery, and it can help them live longer. Learn more about OHSU’s hypertrophic cardiomyopathy program, the only one in Oregon.

Heart failure and transplant: It’s rare for children with cardiomyopathy to need a heart transplant. When it’s necessary, we work closely with top transplant centers on the West Coast.

Our excellence

OHSU is the only hospital in the Northwest named a Center of Excellence by the Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Association. The honor recognizes our expertise, experience and technology.

For families

Call 503-346-0640 to:

  • Request an appointment.
  • Seek a second opinion.
  • Ask questions.

Find resources and support.

Locations

Parking is free for patients and their visitors.

Doernbecher Children’s Hospital
700 S.W. Campus Drive
Portland, OR 97239
Map and directions

Find other locations across Oregon and in southwest Washington.

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