Signs and Symptoms of Dilated Cardiomyopathy

Children with dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) can appear with a range of symptoms from none, subtle to severe. Infants and children with dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) often present with respiratory signs, although symptoms do not always appear in the early stages of the disease. If the disease is more established, there may be signs of congestive heart failure (CHF). Until a diagnosis is made, chronic coughing and wheezing can be misinterpreted as asthma. DCM can also be misdiagnosed as a viral upper respiratory tract infection or pneumonia in infants and young children.

Children with DCM caused by viral myocarditis can develop an acute episode of CHF, and within a 24-48 hour time period become so ill as to require emergency hospitalization and advanced life support. 

Children with DCM can also have heart rhythm problems (arrhythmia). This can either be a first symptom or a symptom that appears after a DCM diagnosis without regard to whether heart failure has developed.

Common DCM symptoms may include:

  • Nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain
  • Poor circulation and pale color
  • Difficulty breathing (dyspnea)
  • Excessive sweating (diaphoresis)
  • Persistent cough or wheezing
  • Chest pain (angina)
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Exercise intolerence
  • Swelling in face, hands, feet and legs (edema)
  • Excess fluid in the abdomen (ascites)
  • Enlarged liver (hepatomegaly)
  • Decreased urine output
  • Irregular heart rhythms or palpitations (arrhythmia)
  • Fainting (syncope)

Infants may also exhibit:

  • Poor feeding and growth
  • Increased agitation, crying or irritability

Signs and Symptoms of Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy


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