Study May Lead to New Treatment for Often-Fatal Heart Disease


tNewly published findings by a pediatric cardiologist at the Children’s Hospital of Michigan show that nearly one-fourth of children diagnosed with the often-fatal heart disease “idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy” can recover normal function of damaged sections of their hearts.

t“(This study provides) a new sense of hope and a new opportunity for more effective treatment in the future,” says Dr. Steven E. Lipshultz, pediatrician-in-chief at the Children's Hospital of Michigan's Pediatrician-in-Chief and chair of pediatrics at Wayne State University.

tAlso known as DCM, the disease affects more than 100,000 children and adults worldwide and is the leading cause for heart transplantation in children and adolescents from 2 to 18 years of age. The study — which followed 741 children who had cardiomyopathy — found that after two years, 22 percent recovered normal heart function and size. Nearly half died, and the 27 percent had persistently abnormal echocardiograms.

t“The really exciting thing about this study is that it gives us a way to begin predicting which children diagnosed with DCM are most likely to survive the disease with normal heart size and function," Lipshultz says. “Knowing how to predict that could also be crucial in determining which children can be expected to survive without requiring heart transplants — a breakthrough that could allow clinicians to reserve that extremely complex and physically demanding procedure for those patients who need it most.”

tThe study, published in a recent issue of Journal of the American College of Cardiology, was co-authored by Lipshultz and James D. Wilkinson, who will be joining the Children's Hospital of Michigan as the associate director of the Children's Research Center of Michigan and Wayne State University School of Medicine as a professor of pediatrics.