What is Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy?
Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) is a complex heart disease that causes abnormally thick or stiff heart muscle. This means the heart needs to pump harder against the thickened muscle, leading to heart rhythm problems and heart valve disease.
HCM is usually an inherited disease, although other problems such as high blood pressure, thyroid disease, and aging may play a role. The disease can cause symptoms at a young age or can develop slowly over time. It is most commonly identified when a heart murmur is heard during a physical exam.
HCM leads to two separate problems:
- Pressure overload within the heart: the thickened heart muscle can block normal blood flow out of the heart, straining the heart muscle and ultimately leading to heart failure in some cases. A small number of patients might need a heart transplant.
- Heart rhythm problems: hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is the leading cause of sudden cardiac death in people under 30, especially young athletes. Although most patients with HCM have a low risk for this, evaluation to determine the need for defibrillator therapy is vital.
Symptoms of Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy
Some patients have no symptoms or only mild ones when diagnosed. Symptoms you might experience include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Lightheadedness/feeling faint
- Palpitations during exertion
- Tiring early with physical activity
UR Medicine's Treatments for Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM)
Our team includes cardiologists, cardiac surgeons, and cardiac radiologists who are experts in diagnosing and treating hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) as well as expert nurses, advanced practice providers, sonographers, and genetic counselors. We also offer pediatric cardiology at Golisano Children’s Hospital.
We will review your history, your family history, perform a physical exam, and review the cardiac testing that has already been completed. We follow a shared decision-making model involving the patient in the decision-making process for testing and treatment. Together, we balance risks and outcomes with your preferences and values.
Diagnostics at our integrated HCM Center include:
- Evaluation by a cardiologist who specializes in HCM
- Echocardiogram/ultrasound of your heart
- Holter monitor, using temporary monitors to watch your heart rhythm
- Comprehensive discussion of treatment options
- Transesophageal Echocardiogram
- As needed:
- blood work
- stress test
- heart MRI
- heart catheterization
- Medications, including Camzyos, the first of its kind that targets the source of symptomatic obstructive HCM
- Cardiac device therapy such as pacemaker, implantable cardiovert defibrillator, or implantable loop recorder
- Minimally invasive alcohol septal ablation, a nonsurgical procedure using alcohol to shrink the enlarged area
- Septal myectomy, a surgical solution to remove a part of the heart to increase blood flow
- Referral to our Advanced Heart Failure Clinic if needed
HCM is a genetic disease. Genetic testing is offered to all patients with a diagnosis of HCM. Test results are confidential. If a genetic cause of HCM is found with testing, then screening for that specific gene mutation can be offered to other family members to better understand their risk. Our program includes a medical geneticist and board-certified genetic counselors. We will discuss genetic testing during your office visits.
What Sets Us Apart?
UR Medicine's Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Program is the first in the area. We believe it is our shared decision-making philosophy, working with our patients to find the right solution, as well as a team with over 45 combined years’ experience treating HCM patients that has made our center a success.
We have the only program in western New York that meets the American College of Cardiology’s comprehensive HCM center criteria. UR Medicine’s Strong Memorial Hospital is one of the few hospitals in the country that offers alcohol septal ablation. Our team has been performing alcohol septal ablations since 2001 and has treated nearly 300 cases, making us one of the most experienced teams in the country.
We were one of the early prescribing centers for Camzyos, the new targeted medical therapy for HCM. We will determine if Camzyos is the right medication for you based on your cardiac testing and symptoms.
Our experienced electrophysiology team performs many risk assessments and is a leader in defibrillator therapy research.
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