Services & Specialties
Neuromuscular Cardiology

Two Exceptional Disciplines Working for Your Child

The Heart Institute at Cincinnati Children’s provides advanced treatment interventions for patients with heart problems related to muscular dystrophy and the female carriers of the disease. Working in collaboration with the Comprehensive Neuromuscular Center, our Advanced Cardiomyopathy and Heart Failure care team attracts patients from all over the world for evaluation and treatment, making us one of the largest and most distinguished international programs treating Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

Why Choose Us

Cardiologists at the Heart Institute are recognized experts in advanced cardiomyopathy and heart failure, presenting and publishing the latest standards of cardiomyopathy care and research, including all forms of muscular dystrophy.

Treatment Approach

We work collaboratively with the Comprehensive Neuromuscular Center to ensure that patient care is coordinated among our leading specialists, including cardiology, neuromuscular, pulmonology, and orthopaedics.

Vital for muscular dystrophy patients is our integrated heart and lung approach, ensuring that multiple system organs are treated in tandem in order to delay heart and lung failure. Our pulmonologists and cardiologists meet with the patient at the same time, ensuring consistency across disciplines. 

It is our goal to keep the native heart as long as possible. Our patients have access to current adult treatment strategies, including adult heart medications and ventricular assist devices (VADs) to prolong heart function, approaches not common in pediatric Duchenne patients.

In 2012, the Heart Institute at Cincinnati Children’s implanted what is believed to be the first Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD) in a Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) patient. Our team has now implanted LVADs into three patients with DMD. Because 80 percent of boys and men with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy ultimately die of heart failure, the implanted LVAD could add years or even decades to the lives of patients with DMD. This approach to advanced heart failure is unique and has the potential to change the natural history of patients with DMD / BMD (Becker muscular dystrophy).

Additionally, we continue to see patients over 18 to ensure continuity of care as patients age from youth to adulthood. 

Genetic Testing and Counseling

As part of our comprehensive approach for the management of neuromuscular disease, we also offer a Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) / Becker Muscular Dystrophy (BMD) carrier clinic. One third of female genetic carriers will develop heart problems, many of whom do not know they are at risk. Currently, this is the only DMD / BMD carrier service in the United States. The Center is able to provide genetic counseling support and identify family members who are at-risk for developing heart problems as well as treat carriers of the genetic disorder.

Among the Best

Cincinnati Children’s and Kentucky Children’s Hospital Joint Pediatric and Congenital Heart Program is ranked among the top 10 programs in the nation for cardiology and heart surgery by U.S. News & World Report in the 2023-24 list of Best Children’s Hospitals.

Conditions Treated

Muscular dystrophy impacts all muscles in the body, including the heart.

Treatment of pulmonary complications has improved survival; however, cardiomyopathy has emerged as the leading cause of death, typically by the third decade.

Four of the more common types of muscular dystrophy to affect the heart include Duchenne, Becker, limb-girdle and some types of congenital muscular dystrophy. As the disease progresses, life-threatening heart and respiratory issues are common. 

We treat all associated heart problems related to Duchenne and other muscular dystrophies: 

  • Dilated cardiomyopathy
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
  • Electrical abnormalities
  • Tachycardia, bradycardia and dysrhythmia 

Brody's Story

Listen to Erica "Ric" Muskopf as she describes her hope for a treatment that will help her son, Brody, who as born with Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

Heart Encyclopedia

Heart Encyclopedia.
Learn about pediatric heart defects and disorders in our Heart Institute Encyclopedia. Learn More

Live Chat

Watch Dr. Lynn Jefferies Live Chat exploring preventative and therapeutic strategies for delaying cardiomyopathy related to muscular dystrophy.