Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is a disease in which the heart muscle, or myocardium, becomes thickened. This condition makes it difficult for the heart to pump blood. In some cases, it can also cause damage to the heart‘s electrical system.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is typically caused by a gene mutation that causes the heart muscles to thicken beyond their normal size. In some cases of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, the heart muscle fibers are arranged in an abnormal fashion. This abnormal arrangement of heart muscle fibers can result in an irregular heartbeat, or arrhythmia.

Types of Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy

The condition can be further classified into two subcategories, hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy and hypertrophic nonobstructive cardiomyopathy.

Hypertrophic Obstructive Cardiomyopathy

Hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy, or cardiomyopathy with obstruction, is present in roughly 70 percent of people suffering from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. In this version of the condition, the wall between the ventricles becomes enlarged which blocks blood flow.

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy without Obstruction

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy without obstruction, also known as nonobstructive hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, is the hardening of the left ventricle. While slightly less severe than hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy, this version of the condition reduces the amount of blood the ventricle can process.

Symptoms of Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy

Symptoms of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy include the following:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Palpitations
  • Chest pain
  • Fainting
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart murmur

Diagnosing Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy

In order to diagnose a patient with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, an echocardiogram, which produces images of the heart‘s muscles, is performed. Additional tests may include the following:

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG)
  • Cardiac MRI
  • Holter monitoring
  • Cardiac catheterization
  • Genetic counseling
  • Blood tests
  • Chest X-ray

If there is a family history of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, screening may recommended.

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Treatment of Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy

Treatment of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy focuses on easing symptoms in three possible ways. Medications to relax the heart muscle, and blood thinners to reduce the risk of blood clots, are often prescribed to allow the heart to pump at a normal rate. Surgery to remove part of the hardened heart muscle, known as a septal myectomy, or valve replacement or repair, may be necessary. Alternatively, a pacemaker or an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) may be implanted to help control arrhythmia.

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