| Risk Factors
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or HCM, is a form of
. This is a condition in which the heart muscle thickens due to genetic problems with the muscle’s structure. As the muscle thickens, it must work harder to pump blood. This strains the heart muscle. Sometimes the thickened muscle gets in the way of the blood leaving the heart and causes a blockage. This blockage can cause a nearby valve to become leaky. HCM can cause uneven muscle growth. This can cause the heart to pump in a disorganized way. Rarely, it can cause abnormal heart rhythms that can be fatal.
Normal Heart and Heart With Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy
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HCM may be caused by a gene that causes an abnormality in the heart muscle. It can be inherited or it can happen from changes in the genes over time.
Having a family member with HCM is a risk factor for your child.
Symptoms may include:
- Chest pain
- Fainting, particularly during exercise
- Dizziness or lightheadedness, particularly following exercise
- Heart palpitations
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- General fatigue
- Tiring easily during exercise or activity
These symptoms can be caused by some of the side effects of the condition, including
abnormal heart beats
. The blocked or reduced blood flow is usually the cause of symptoms like dizziness, fainting, and difficulty breathing. Babies with the condition may have the following symptoms:
- Fast, heavy breathing when feeding
- Sweating when feeding
- Tiredness or inactivity
- Poor weight gain
Some children may not have any symptoms. The doctor may suspect your child has the condition if she has a
, although not every person with HCM has a murmur and not all murmurs are due to HCM.
The doctor will ask about your child’s symptoms and medical history and do a physical exam. Tests may include the following:
—tests how the body responds to exercise, which can help in detecting heart and lung problems
—uses sound waves (ultrasound) to examine the size, shape, and motion of the heart
—images of the heart are taken using sound waves with a sound wave transducer being put down the throat
Heart monitor—a portable
(ECG) records continuous heart activity, usually over a 24-72 hour period, to determine regularity of the heartbeat
—a catheter is inserted into an artery in the groin area and threaded to the heart chambers (An x-ray machine shows real-time images of the body as a dye is injected through the catheter. This allows angiograms (photos) to be taken of the blood vessels and the heart.)
—uses radiation to take a picture of structures inside the body
- Blood tests
Treatment focuses on controlling symptoms and preventing complications. Talk with the doctor about the best treatment plan for your child. Treatment options include:
Medicines may be used to help maintain proper and regular heart function. They may also be used to remove excess fluid from the body. If your child has an arrhythmia, he may need anti-arrhythmic drugs. He may also need blood-thinning medicine.
The thickened portion of the heart muscle is cut and removed. This may be needed if your child has severely blocked blood flow from the heart or if the blockage causes a problem with the other heart valves and structures. If the mitral valve is leaking, surgery may also be done to repair or replace the mitral valve if needed.
Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillators (ICD)
is implanted if your child is at heightened risk for sudden death.
If a family member has been diagnosed with HCM, your child should be screened for the condition.