Key Points about Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy

  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy occurs when the heart muscle thickens, leading to an impairment of the heart’s ability to pump blood.
  • While not all people with the condition experience symptoms, some people may experience chest pain and trouble breathing, particularly during exercise, as well as an irregular heartbeat.
  • Treatment for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy include surgery, medication, and the insertion of an implanted device.
  • Seek immediate medical care if you are experiencing trouble breathing, intense chest pain, or irregular and abnormally rapid heartbeats.
Common related conditions
Heart (Cardiovascular) Disease Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy

Overview

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is an inherited genetic disorder marked by a thickening of the heart muscle, which can impair the heart’s ability to pump blood. Many people with this condition do not experience any symptoms. Others, however, may experience trouble breathing, chest pain, or irregular heartbeats.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy can be treated with medication, surgery, or an implantable device.

Seek medical attention immediately if you are having trouble breathing, intense chest pain, or an irregular and abnormally rapid heartbeat.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy causes

Most cases of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy are caused by a genetic mutation that is inherited from a parent. These mutations cause an abnormal thickening of the heart muscle over time.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy risk factors

Children born to a parent with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy have a 50 percent chance of having inherited the gene mutation responsible for the condition.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy symptoms

People with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy may experience:

  • Trouble breathing during normal daily activities or while exercising
  • Chest pain
  • Heart palpitations or a heart murmur
  • Fainting

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy complications

Some cases of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy can lead to complications, such as:

  • Cardiac arrest
  • Heart failure
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Dilated cardiomyopathy
  • Mitral valve issues
  • Blood flow obstruction

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy diagnosis

When diagnosing hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, your doctor will review your symptoms and medical history and conduct a physical examination. Your doctor will also likely provide an echocardiogram, which is an imaging test that enables your doctor to assess whether there is any abnormal thickness of the heart muscle.

To assess the extent of your symptoms and help identify the best course of treatment, your doctor may also provide additional tests such as:

  • Treadmill stress test
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG)
  • Holter monitor
  • Cardiac catheterization
  • Cardiac MRI

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy treatment

Treatment for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy involves managing symptoms and lowering the risk of sudden cardiac death, through measures such as:

  • Medications that cause the heart muscle to relax
  • A septal myectomy, which is a surgical procedure to remove some of the thickened muscle
  • Septal ablation, to destroy some of the heart muscle that has thickened via an alcohol injection to the area
  • Inserting an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD)

When to seek care

Seek immediate medical care if you are experiencing:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Severe chest pain
  • An irregular or abnormally fast heart rate

Next Steps

Set up an appointment with your doctor if you have an immediate family member with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, as you may want to undergo screening for the condition.