Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy


Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is a condition in which the muscle of the heart's left ventricle becomes thicker than normal, making it hard are for blood to leave the heart and get to the rest of the body. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy forces the heart to work harder to pump blood, and may also affect the hearts mitral valve, causing blood to leak backward through the valve.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is a rare condition that is usually passed down through families, and may be found in people of all ages.

Symptoms of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy

Some patients with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy experience no symptoms – they may be unaware they have the condition until it is discovered during a medical exam. For some younger patients, the first symptom of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy may be sudden collapse and possible death, caused by an extremely abnormal heart rhythm or the blockage of blood flow from the heart to other organs.

Other common symptoms include:

  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness, especially during physical activity
  • Fainting, especially during exercise
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath during physical activity or after lying down or being asleep for a period of time
  • Heart palpitations – a sensation of strongly feeling the heart beating

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.

Treatment for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy

Patients with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy can find comprehensive and innovative care at the Cardiovascular Genetics Program at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH). Located in our state-of-the-art Heart & Vascular Center, the program combines the latest research and advanced technologies to deliver leading-edge evaluation and care for individuals at risk for inherited cardiac disease.

Treatment for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy at BWH may include:

  • Medication for arrhythmia treatment to regulate the heart's rhythm.
  • Blood thinners to reduce the risk of clots.
  • Pacemaker implantation to control the heartbeat.
  • Implantable cardioverter-defibrillator, a device that automatically senses life-threatening heart rhythms and stops them with an electrical pulse.
  • Surgical myectomy, performed when the blood flow from the heart is severely blocked.
  • Alcohol septal ablation, an injection of alcohol into arteries that feed the thickened part of the heart.
  • Heart transplant for patients with end-stage congestive heart failure.

The team at the Cardiovascular Genetics Program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. To make an appointment, please call 1-800-294-9999. In addition to treatment for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, patients at the Shapiro Cardiovascular Center may also receive care for a broad range of other cardiac conditions, including cardiac amyloidosis, arrhythmia, vascular disease, and heart failure or congestive heart failure treatment. BWH is also recognized as a leading provider of services for women and heart disease.

Learn more about diagnosing the genetic condition Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

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