Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM)

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is one of the most common heritable cardiac condition and is the most common cause of sudden cardiac arrest in the young, affecting about 1 in 500 people. Familial HCM is a heart condition characterized by thickening (hypertrophy) of the heart muscle, more specifically the ventricle. The thickened heart muscle can make it challenging to keep up with the oxygen demands of the body and of the heart muscle itself.

Signs and Symptoms:

Many people with HCM have few, if any, symptoms and can lead normal lives without significant symptoms. However, this condition can also have serious consequences. Life threatening arrhythmias resulting in cardiac arrest can sometimes be the first symptom.


Signs and symptoms of HCM may include one or more of the following:

  • Shortness of breath, especially during exercise
  • Chest pain, especially during exercise
  • Fainting, especially during or just after exercise or exertion
  • Sensation of rapid, fluttering or pounding heartbeats (palpitations)

Heart murmur, which a doctor might detect while listening to your heart.

Diagnosis:

Managing HCM requires lifelong visits with a cardiologist to screen for potential cardiac risks and obtain a careful family history. Routine testing can consist of echocardiograms, 12-lead ECGs, Holter monitoring, exercise stress tests, cardiac MRIs, or cardiac genetic testing.
 

Treatment:

Treatment of HCM is to relieve any symptoms and to prevent sudden death. Your treatment will depend of the severity of the disease. 

Your cardiologist may prescribe medications to reduce how hard the heart muscle squeezes and to slow down the heart rate so the heart can pump better. Common drugs for treatment include beta blockers.

Implantation of an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD or defibrillator) may be indicated for certain patients, especially those who have had a life-threatening arrhythmia (such as ventricular tachycardia or ventricular fibrillation) or are at risk for these arrhythmias. 

In certain patients, cardiac surgery may be recommended called a septal myectomy. The goal of this surgery is to remove part of the thickened septum. This can help the heart pump better and reduce the risk of ventricular arrhythmia.

Lifestyle Changes:

Activity restrictions are determined by the severity of disease and the presence or absence of an ICD. Your healthcare team will help guide you in the decision-making process. Even if there are some restrictions, it will be important to discuss the activities that are safe and appropriate for the patient, and to focus on what CAN be done!

Keep Exploring

Heart Rhythm Disorders
Millions of people experience irregular or abnormal heartbeats, called arrhythmias, at some point in their lives. Most of the time, they are harmless and happen in healthy people free of heart disease. However, some abnormal heart rhythms can be serious or even deadly. Having other types of heart disease can also increase the risk of arrhythmias.
Pediatrics and Congenital Heart Disease (CHD)
This section is for pediatric patients and families living with heart rhythm disorders and heart rhythm disorders related to congenital heart disease (CHD).
Early Warning Signs
If you are experiencing a racing, pounding, rumbling or flopping feeling in your chest or if you have been fainting, having repeated dizzy spells, feeling lightheaded or you are extremely fatigued, it's time to see a doctor to discuss your heart health.
Common Treatments
Learning about the underlying cause of any heart rhythm disorder provides the basis for selecting the best treatment plan. Information and knowledge about care options, and their risks and benefits help you work with your health care provider to make the best choices.
Lifestyle
Since other heart disorders increase the risk of developing abnormal heart rhythms, lifestyle changes often are recommended. Living a “heart healthy” lifestyle can ease the symptoms experienced with heart rhythm disorders and other heart disorders, and can be beneficial to overall patient health.
The Normal Heart
The heart is a fist-sized muscle that pumps blood through the body 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, without rest. The normal heart is made up of four parts: two atria on the top of the heart (right atrium and left atrium), and two ventricles (right ventricle and left ventricle) which are the muscular chambers on the bottom of the heart that provide the major power to pump blood.