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Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM)

What is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM)?

Your heart has two lower pumping chambers: the right and left ventricles. The right ventricle pushes the blood into the lungs to gain oxygen, and the left pumps this oxygen-rich blood throughout the body.

When the muscle walls of the left ventricle are thicker or stiffer than what is considered normal — whether from a genetic defect or aging — the flow of blood from the heart out to the body can be restricted or obstructed.

Symptoms that result from a limited blood flow can include chest pain, shortness of breath, fatigue and syncope (passing out). Depending on the severity of your symptoms, your physician may recommend a medication to manage the condition or a surgical procedure to remove the obstruction.

Why choose UF Health Jacksonville?

Our cardiologists are experts in their field with extensive experience in the evaluation and management of HCM. As an integral part of an interdisciplinary care team, these highly trained specialists coordinate your care with electrophysiologists, imaging specialists, interventional cardiologists, heart failure specialists and cardiac surgeons. Together, they perform comprehensive evaluations and explore the treatment options that will provide you with the best possible outcome.

HCM: What you need to know

  • This condition is considered the most common genetic disease of the heart muscle.
  • Obstructive HCM and nonobstructive HCM are the two types of this condition. In both, the heart muscle may be thickened or stiff, yet only obstructive HCM reduces blood flow.
  • Some people may experience symptoms such as shortness of breath, fatigue, chest pain, dizziness or an irregular heartbeat. Other patients may not have obvious symptoms except during exertion.

HCM: Diagnosis

The symptoms people experience with HCM can occur in other diseases, so a comprehensive evaluation is important for an accurate diagnosis. A medical history may be included, as HCM can be passed from parents to children.

Listening to the heart and lungs during a physical exam can be used to help detect a murmur that can indicate a restricted blood flow. To help diagnose HCM, your physician may perform an echocardiogram to detect the thickness of the muscle. Other tests might include an electrocardiogram or ECG, an MRI, cardiac catheterization and/or a stress test.

HCM: Treatment

  • If you are trying to manage the symptoms of obstructive HCM, your specialist may recommend medications including mavacamten, an FDA-approved medication now used in the treatment of the condition.
  • Your care team may also discuss with you how to incorporate exercise, a healthy diet and quality sleep into your healthy lifestyle, as well as make recommendations for maintaining a normal weight and quitting smoking.
  • Depending on your individual needs, your physician may discuss surgical options — alcohol septal ablation and myectomy — and help you decide if a surgical procedure is needed to allow you to return to your regular everyday routines and improve your quality of life.

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