Restrictive cardiomyopathies in childhood. Etiologies and natural history

Tex Heart Inst J. 1997;24(1):38-44.


Restrictive cardiomyopathy is rare in childhood and little is known about the causes and outcome. This lack of information results in extrapolation of adult data to the care and management of children, who might require different treatment from that of adults. This study was undertaken retrospectively to evaluate the causes and natural history of restrictive cardiomyopathy in childhood. Twelve cases of restrictive cardiomyopathy were identified by database review of patient records from 1967 to 1994. The cases were selected on the basis of echocardiographic and cardiac catheterization criteria. Charts were reviewed for the following variables: age, sex, cause, right-and left-sided hemodynamics, pulmonary vascular resistance index, shortening fraction, therapy, and outcome. There were 6 males and 6 females with a mean age of 4.6 years at presentation (median, 3.4 yr; range, 0.9 to 12.3 yr). Etiologies included hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in 3 patients, cardiac hypertrophy with restrictive physiology in 3, idiopathic in 2, familial in 2 (twins), "chronic eosinophilia" in 1, and "post inflammatory" with no definitive causes in 1. At presentation the mean shortening fraction was 33% +/- 2% (mean +/- SEM), average right ventricular pressures were 44/13 +/- 3/1, average left ventricular pressures were 88/25 +/- 4/3, and the mean pulmonary vascular resistance index was 3.4 +/- 1.3 U.m2 (n = 9), but increased to 9.9 +/- 3.1 U.m2 (n = 5, p = 0.04) by 1 to 4 years after diagnosis. Four of the 12 patients had embolic events (1, recurrent pulmonary emboli; 1, saddle femoral embolus; 2, cerebrovascular accidents) and 9 of 12 died within 6.3 years despite medical therapies, which included diuretics, verapamil, propranolol, digoxin, and captopril. In conclusion, restrictive cardiomyopathy in childhood is commonly idiopathic or associated with cardiac hypertrophy, and the prognosis is poor. Embolic events occurred in 33% of our patients, and 9 of 12 patients died within 6.3 years. Within 1 to 4 years of diagnosis, patients may develop a markedly elevated pulmonary vascular resistance index; therefore, transplantation should be considered early.

MeSH terms

  • Cardiac Catheterization
  • Cardiomyopathy, Restrictive / etiology*
  • Cardiomyopathy, Restrictive / physiopathology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies