What is Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM)?
- HCM is a condition where areas of heart muscle become thickened and stiff.
- The thickening makes it harder for the heart to contract and pump blood
- Depending on where the thickening is, it can affect how blood flows out of the heart (referred to as ‘HCM with obstruction’ or ‘HOCM’).
There is wide variation in the symptoms of HCM, with some people having few or no symptoms, to people who have very severe symptoms.
Common symptoms include the following:
- Palpitations (feeling your heart beating too fast, too hard or like it is ‘fluttering’) – this is caused by abnormal heart rhythms.
- Chest pain – caused by reduced oxygen levels getting to the heart.
- Dizziness or fainting – caused by reduced oxygen levels or blood flow to the brain.
There are several tests that might be used to diagnose HCM, including the following:
- Medical history – to look at any previous symptoms and whether there might be other family members with this condition (as it can be genetic). This will often involve drawing the individual’s family tree.
- Physical exam – to look for any signs of the condition and any other health problems.
The results of the medical history and physical exam provide important information about a diagnosis and determine which further tests are needed.
When someone is diagnosed with HCM it is important to consider how it affects them individually, and their individual risk of having dangerous abnormal heart rhythms. Treatment aims to control symptoms and reduce complications, however some people may not need treatment. Treatments include medication, implantable devices, surgery and lifestyle management.