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Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy

You have hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a condition that affects the way the heart muscle works. The heart muscle grows thicker and stiffer than normal, especially in the walls of the left ventricle and septum. This makes it hard for the heart to pump blood properly. As a result, it can be difficult to do activities that were once easy for you. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is a genetic disorder, although it often doesn't show up until later in life. In some people, the condition carries a risk for sudden cardiac death. If you have any passing out spells, tell your doctor about them immediately. The condition can be managed, but there is no cure. Talk to your doctor about treatment.

Cross section of heart with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy showing thickened muscle wall in left ventricle and thickened septum between left and right ventricles. Arrows show normal blood flow through right atrium and ventricle and less blood flow through left atrium and ventricle.Symptoms of Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy

A person with this condition often experiences no symptoms. But if symptoms do occur, they are most likely when you exert yourself. Symptoms may include:

  • Problems catching your breath

  • Unexplained tiredness

  • Lightheadedness, dizzy spells, or fainting

  • Rapid, pounding heartbeat

  • Chest tightness or pressure

  • Fluid retention resulting in swollen feet or ankles or unexplained weight gain

What Happens in Your Heart

As the walls of the heart muscle thicken, it becomes more difficult for the heart to hold as much blood as possible. Thick walls may also block blood flow and damage valves. A stiff heart muscle can’t relax between pumps the way it should, so less blood moves with each pump. Also, the heart may sometimes beat irregularly (too fast and out of rhythm).

Your Treatment Plan

Treatment can help keep cardiomyopathy from getting worse, and can reduce your symptoms. Your doctor will work with you to develop a treatment plan to help you feel better now and prevent problems in the future.

Online Medical Reviewer: Brown, Kim, APRN
Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Last Review Date: 2/19/2014
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