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Heart Disease Health Center

New Guidelines on Frequent Cause of Sudden Death in Athletes

Recommendations Aim to Improve the Diagnosis and Treatment of Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy
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A Way to Move Forward continued...

Among the key recommendations:

  • Although people with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy should not participate in intense or competitive sports, low-intensity aerobic activities like golf or hiking can be a reasonable part of a healthy lifestyle.
  • Because HCM is often inherited, all first-degree relatives of someone known to have the disorder should be screened.
  • Children of parents with HCM should continue to be tested every 12 to 18 months since the disease may only present itself later in life.
  • Patients should be offered genetic testing and counseling.
  • All patients with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy should be evaluated for the risk of sudden death.
  • Patients judged to be at high risk should be offered implantable defibrillators to prevent sudden death.
  • Drug therapy can help control symptoms like shortness of breath and chest pain.
  • Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging can be used to diagnose HCM when electrical tests and ultrasounds are inconclusive.
  • When symptoms are severe and not helped by medications, surgeries to remove muscle from the heart wall can help.
  • These surgeries should be performed by doctors who have performed at least 20 similar procedures or at a center dedicated to the treatment of HCM.

Cardiologists welcomed the new guidelines, saying they would improve the care of people with HCM.

"This can only be helpful. The fact that this is laying out very clearly not only what drugs are good but how to screen for it, that patients should be genetically counseled -- all of the different aspects --  they really are pinning down" what should be targeted by a cardiologist, Narula says.

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