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Cardiomyopathy is a congenital heart defect that can be life-threatening without the proper treatment. Similar to numerous other types of heart defects, there may an association with Cardiomyopathy and taking Zofran while pregnant.

What is Cardiomyopathy?

Cardiomyopathy, sometimes referred to as the “disease of the heart muscle,” occurs when the heart muscle grows much larger than usual. The heart muscle is also thick and stiff, making it difficult for the heart to relax and contract properly. Over time, the heart can stop pumping blood at all and heart failure may follow.
pediatrician examines baby
People of all ages are at risk of developing cardiomyopathy. However, the age group that’s diagnosed the most with the defect is babies under 12 months of age. It’s also the leading reason that children under 18 years of age.

Cardiomyopathy Symptoms

According to the Children’s Cardiomyopathy Foundation, symptoms of cardiomyopathy can vary greatly, depending on how mild or how severe the defect is. Unfortunately, some children and babies will have symptoms that mimic a minor cold, a flu, and even asthma, which results in the defect going undiagnosed in some instance, until a physician detects it routine medical visit.

Since babies are unable to communicate their ailments, it’s often the case that the defect is diagnosed after a doctor notices the following symptoms:

  • Heart murmurs and palpitations
  • Rapid breathing
  • Breath shortness
  • Fainting spells
  • Excessive crying and fussiness
  • Excessive sweating
  • Chest pain

Cardiomyopathy Treatment Options

Although there currently isn’t a way to completely reverse cardiomyopathy, there are numerous treatment options that can assist in improving your baby’s long-term outlook. The sooner the condition is diagnosed, the better the chances.

If detected early enough before too much damage has been done, treatment may consist of drug therapy, which helps the heart work more effectively and decrease the overload of work the heart goes through. Drug therapy also aims to prevent blood clots, regulate abnormal heart beats, and reduce heart inflammation.

Another treatment option to help control abnormal heart beats, a common side effect of cardiomyopathy, is a small device known as a pacemaker. A pacemaker is requires surgery, as it’s placed under the patient’s skin, close to the abdomen or the chest. When the patient’s heart beat reaches dangerous levels, the pacemaker will help to regulate the abnormalities.

Surgery is a treatment option for severe cases of cardiomyopathy. The most common type of surgery for the defect is a complete valve replacement. Although this type of surgery will help control heart failure, it will not stop cardiomyopathy from progressing.

In the most severe cases of cardiomyopathy, when the heart baby or child experiences heart failure and no other treatment is working, a heart transplant is generally the final step. While the patient is waiting for a heart donor, he/she will usually use a medical heart (assisted device) and medication to help survival.

Cardiomyopathy Causes

In 2/3 of all cardiomyopathy causes, experts are unable find an underlying causes. In some instances, the defect is caused due to genetic and hereditary factors, neuromuscular disorders, or metabolic disorders.

Women taking specific medications while pregnant may also lead to cardiomyopathy. Generally, cardiomyopathy surfaces in these instances due to other heart problems. Zofran, manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), has been prescribed to pregnant women for off-label use for morning sickness for numerous years. Yet, the FDA has only approved Zofran use for cancer and surgery patients.

Zofran, also known as Zuplenz or ondansetron, has been linked to numerous birth defects, including severe infant heart malformations and issues. GSK is now facing a multitude of Zofran lawsuits that alleges the company willfully hid the risks of taking the medication while pregnant.

If You Took Zofran While Pregnant

Keep in mind that if you took Zofran while pregnant, you have the right to file for damages. Cardiomyopathy treatment expenses and expenses of other birth defects can get extremely costly and often last throughout the baby’s lifetime. For more information on how the lawsuit process works for dangerous pharmaceutical medication cases, refer to our article, Zofran Lawsuit.