Cardiomyopathy is a group of heart diseases that cause your heart muscle to thicken.
There are several different types of cardiomyopathy. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is the second most common type of heart muscle disease (after ischemic cardiomyopathy).
Up to 500,000 people in the United States have HCM. According to the American Heart Association, 35% to 40% of children under age 12 who have cardiomyopathy have HCM.
This type of cardiomyopathy usually affects your left ventricle, a lower chamber that is your heart’s main pumping chamber. As the ventricle walls enlarge, they become more rigid and bulge into the space inside the ventricle. The narrowed ventricle prevents your heart from pumping enough blood to the rest of your body and maintaining a normal electrical rhythm.
HCM can also damage your heart’s mitral valve and cause cellular changes in heart tissue.
Although there is no cure for HCM, Aurora Health Care doctors offer a number of very effective medications and corrective procedures that can significantly improve your symptoms.
HCM is usually an inherited condition caused by mutations (changes) in heart muscle cells. Because of its genetic link, it’s very important to have your doctor check you and your family for HCM if a doctor diagnoses one of your parents, siblings or children with the condition.
People can also develop HCM as a result of the aging process or health conditions such as:
HCM often is the condition behind sudden cardiac arrest, especially in young athletes. Many people don’t realize they have HCM until they develop an arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm) or go into sudden cardiac arrest, meaning their heart suddenly stops beating.
Because we often diagnose HCM in children and young people (particularly athletes) – and because the condition is often inherited – we often test and work with entire families. Your HCM treatment at Aurora will include:
Although many people don’t realize they have HCM, the disease may create symptoms. It’s important to see your doctor right away if you have two or more HCM symptoms, which include:
To diagnose HCM, your doctor will start by asking about your symptoms and perform a physical exam.
If you need further heart tests, they may include:
Learn more about heart and vascular testing and diagnosis at Aurora.
If you are diagnosed with HCM, we’ll work with you on a treatment plan tailored to your needs. It may include lifestyle changes to improve your health such as quitting smoking, avoiding high-intensity sports and limiting salt, alcohol and caffeine.
Other options include: