Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy occurs when the heart muscle grows too thick that the heart chambers grow too small. Many people don’t have symptoms showing that they have it. But what usually happens is that the heart doesn’t get enough blood and oxygen, resulting in chest pain.
Over time, an uneven, fast, or slow heartbeat develops. The heart might not also pump blood well. The worst thing that can happen is heart failure.
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is different from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which occurs in people who regularly exercise. The latter is harmless because when the athlete stops training, their heart goes back to normal size.
What are the common causes of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy?
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is the most common genetic disease of the heart. This means you can inherit from your family members. If your mom or dad has one, there is a high chance you’ll have one. Talk to your doctor to get tested and treated.
How is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy diagnosed?
The first thing your doctor will do is to conduct a physical exam. They will ask you about your family history of heart diseases to learn more about your health. Then they will run laboratory tests such as:
- Electrocardiograms (ECG or EKG)
- Chest X-rays
Once they have the results, they will refer you to a cardiologist—a doctor specializing in the heart. Based on your symptoms, family history, and past health, they will assess your risk. If you are high risk, you will need regular checkups. If you are at low risk, then you may not need to see your doctor often. All you need is a checkup from time to time to know if your symptoms change.
What are the symptoms of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy?
As we said earlier, you may not show symptoms, or you might. Some of the common symptoms you’ll experience are shortness of breath, fatigue, chest pains, and dizziness when you are active. Other people experience their heart pounding or racing. Some even experience extreme palpitations.
Treatments for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
The treatment actually depends on your symptoms. Since some don’t have symptoms, they don’t need treatments. If you do have symptoms, you may take medicines to treat shortness of breath and chest pain.
If the medicines didn’t work for you and your heart isn’t pumping blood well, you might need a procedure to reduce the size of the overgrown part of your heart. This procedure is called myectomy, wherein the overgrown part of the heart is removed. You can also reduce it by injecting alcohol into the artery that supplies that part of the heart. This procedure is called nonsurgical septal reduction or alcohol septal ablation.
If you are a high-risk patient, an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) may be an option. This device is like a pacemaker because it prevents or stops dangerous heart rhythms. Aside from these medical treatments, you can do several at-home treatments.
The first one is to avoid smoking. Quitting can be a difficult task, so talk to your doctor about programs and medicines. Have a balanced diet and take your medication as prescribed. You can exercise too, but consult your doctor before starting a regimen.
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is a serious condition that can lead to death when not taken care of. If you or a loved one has experienced any of the symptoms, schedule an appointment. Talk to your doctor today and start an even healthier lifestyle. If you are prescribed any medications and treatments, follow the instructions as best you can.
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