Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Overview

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is the most common inherited cardiovascular disorder. An estimated 1 out of 500-1,000 people will develop hypertrophic cardiomyopathy during their lifetime.

What is Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy?

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy occurs when the muscle of the heart’s left ventricle (lower chamber) becomes thicker than normal. The heart muscle also frequently develops scar tissue, or fibrosis. Many people with HCM will do well with attentive medical care. However, serious complications, such as heart failure or dangerous arrhythmias, may develop.

  • In many cases, HCM is inherited – caused by a change in our genetic material. As a result, family members may be at risk for developing HCM and should be evaluated.
  • It can affect men and women of all ages, and symptoms can appear in childhood or adulthood.
  • The thickened heart muscle may obstruct blood flow to the rest of the body and also cause blood to leak backward through the mitral valve.
  • Symptoms include shortness of breath on exertion, difficulty with physical activity, dizziness, fainting, and chest pain.
  • Some patients experience cardiac arrhythmias, which may lead to sudden death.

Carolyn Ho, MD, Medical Director of the Cardiovascular Genetics Center at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), discusses the role of genetics in the development of heart diseases such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Read the Advancing Care for Inherited Heart Disease Video Transcript.

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Care at Brigham and Women’s Hospital

The team at the Cardiovascular Genetics Program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. They employ an integrative approach, paying particular attention to the unique features of the disorder, to provide optimal management of patients and families with HCM. The Program’s multidisciplinary clinic provides:

Cardiovascular Care at Brigham and Women’s Hospital

For nearly a century, Brigham and Women’s Hospital has been at the epicenter for innovation and discovery in cardiovascular care and research.

Our Heart & Vascular Center continues to be poised for the future and will lead the way in shaping cardiovascular care in years to come. The way we deliver care to our patients within our state-of the-art Carl J. and Ruth Shapiro Cardiovascular Center – integrating all of our cardiovascular services to create a truly collaborative environment that fosters teamwork amongst all of our specialists – will serve as a catalyst for groundbreaking advances in heart and vascular care and research.

Patient- and Family-focused Care
Brigham and Women’s Hospital has long been committed to not only the care of our patients but also the many other needs that they and their families have. This philosophy of patient- and family-focused care – involving systems and services that emphasize healing in a comfortable, relaxed environment – is a guiding force behind the care we provide at the Center. 

Quality of Patient Care
BWH is committed to providing all of our patients with the safest, highest-quality, most-satisfying care possible and follow established protocols that have been shown to improve patient outcomes. Our inpatient satisfaction survey, sent to patients to assess their total care experience, helps us to monitor what we are doing well and what areas may need improvement. We pride ourselves in the quality of patient care we provide and how we compare with other hospitals.

Brigham and Women’s Cardiovascular Genetics Team

The Heart & Vascular Genetics Program team is committed to patients and their families.  Each patient's diagnosis and treatment plan will be designed and tailored to their needs.  Our team of highly skilled doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals work together to deliver the highest quality care to every patient.

Contact Us

If you believe you should have an evaluation and would like to schedule an appointment with one of our hypertrophic cardiomyopathy experts, call 1-800-294-9999 to speak to one of our knowledgeable coordinators who can help to connect you to the doctor that best meets your needs, or fill out an online appointment request form.

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