Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy - Topic Overview
What is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy?
cardiomyopathy (say "hy-per-TROH-fik kar-dee-oh-my-AWP-uh-thee") happens when
the heart muscle grows too thick, so the heart gets bigger and its
chambers get smaller. This may result in:
- No symptoms or few symptoms. Many people
have no symptoms and live a normal life with few problems.
heart not getting enough blood and oxygen, which can cause chest pain.
- A fast, slow, or uneven heartbeat (arrhythmia). In
rare cases, this can cause sudden death.
- The heart not pumping
blood well or not relaxing between beats as it normally does. In rare cases,
this can lead to
See a picture of a normal heart and a heart with
hypertrophic cardiomyopathy .
cardiomyopathy is the most common
genetic heart disease. This means it runs in families. About 1 out of 500 adults have this condition. It
often starts early in life, from the teens through the mid-30s.1
cannot be cured, but you can treat the symptoms.
What causes hypertrophic cardiomyopathy?
genes cause the heart to grow more than it should. If
you have family members with the disease, you are more likely to get it.
What are the symptoms?
If you have hypertrophic
cardiomyopathy, you may:
- Have no symptoms.
- Feel tired and
short of breath when you are active.
- Feel dizzy or faint, often
after you have been active.
- Feel like your heart is pounding,
racing, or beating unevenly (palpitations).
- Have chest
pain (angina). You may have a heavy, tight feeling in your
chest. Chest pain is often brought on by exercise, when the heart has to work
Call your doctor if:
- You have a rapid or irregular heartbeat or
fainting spells. You may have an arrhythmia, which makes sudden death more
likely. People with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy are at a higher risk for sudden
death than other people and can die at a young age.
- You have
symptoms that might be caused by heart failure, such as shortness of breath,
being very tired, or swelling in your legs or ankles.
How is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy diagnosed?
Your doctor will ask you about any health problems you've had and about
any family history of heart disease or early and sudden death. Your doctor will
do a physical exam. You may need tests such as an
electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG), chest X-ray, or
Your doctor may refer
you to a doctor who specializes in heart problems (cardiologist). Based on your
symptoms, past health, and family history, the specialist can assess your risk
for sudden death. People who are at high risk will need regular checkups.
If your parents or any brothers or sisters have the disease or
died suddenly at a young age, you are at risk. Talk to your doctor about
getting tests to check for the disease.
How is it treated?