Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is usually genetic, meaning it runs in families. This condition affects 1 out of every 500 adults; however, anyone at any age can develop this cardiovascular disease. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is a condition where the heart muscle thickens; making the heart’s four chambers smaller. The reduction in size leads to stiffening of the heart’s walls. This causes the aortic and mitral heart valves to function abnormally. These changes make it difficult for the heart to pump blood throughout the body, which could lead to cardiac arrest.
Signs and Symptoms
Individuals with HCM may notice signs or have no symptoms, whatsoever.
Signs of HCM include:
- Palpitations/Fluttering in the chest – caused by irregular heart rhythms
- Fainting – may be caused by unusual responses from the blood vessels during activity and/or irregular heart rhythms
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath – especially following activity
Left untreated, HCM can lead to abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias), ventricular tachycardia (rapid heartbeat starting in the ventricles) and sudden death from heart failure.
Diagnosing Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy
Although HCM can be genetic, it may also come about as an individual ages. Sometimes, the actual cause is unknown. To diagnose HCM, a cardiac specialist examines a patient’s medical history and echocardiogram results. The cardiologist may run additional tests to confirm the diagnosis and create a customized treatment plan.
These additional tests may include:
- A Chest x-ray
- Blood work
- Cardiac catheterization
- An electrocardiogram
The treatment an individual receives depends on:
- Whether or not a patient’s heart has narrowed in the outflow tract
- How well the heart is functioning
- Whether or not the patient has an arrhythmia
Managing HCM usually includes risk identification, regular follow-up visits and lifestyle changes. Diagnostic procedures are also performed on a regular basis to monitor heart function.
Heart doctors inform their patients the activities/foods they should avoid. The list below is just a sampling of the lifestyle changes a cardiac specialist may advise a patient to make.
- Salt, Diet Changes and Fluid Restrictions
- Unless Fluids are Restricted, Drink Plenty of Water – patients who have heart disease should drink eight glasses of water every day.
- Regular Exercise – recommended exercise is usually mild and non-competitive.
- Regular Visits to the Cardiologist – a patient with HCM needs to schedule annual visits with his/her cardiac specialist. These follow-up visits allow the cardiologist to monitor the heart.
These, along with medications, are some of the non-invasive treatments utilized by heart doctors in the treatment of cardiovascular disease. Surgical procedures from a septal myectomy (removal of a portion of a thickened septal wall) to an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) (heart monitor designed to keep the heart beating normally) are also used to help people who suffer with cardiac disease.
If you live in or near Mesa, Gilbert or San Tan Valley and you or a loved one suffers with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, contact Tri-City Cardiology Consultants at the Arizona Cardiovascular Treatment Center today. We are here to help.