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Healthcare: Cardiovascular Medicine

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy

Master
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About hypertrophic cardiomyopathy

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Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy happens when the heart muscle grows too thick. Many people with this condition have no symptoms and live a normal life with few problems. But in some people, it can cause more serious heart problems and in rare cases can cause sudden death.

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What causes hypertrophic cardiomyopathy?

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Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is usually passed down through families with some genes causing the heart to grow more than it should. You are at risk if either of your parents or a brother or sister has it or died suddenly at a young age.

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What are the possible symptoms of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy?

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This can cause shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, fainting, and fatigue. It also can affect the heart's electrical system. For some people, this can increase the risk for life-threatening abnormal heartbeats.

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How is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy diagnosed?

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Your doctor will do a physical exam and ask you about any health problems you've had and about any family history of heart disease or early and sudden death. You may need tests such as:

  • Echocardiogram
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG)
  • Chest X-ray
  • MRI

You may be referred to a doctor who specializes in heart problems (cardiologist). Based on your symptoms, past health, and family history, the specialist can assess your risk for sudden death. People who are at high risk will need regular checkups. If you are at low risk for sudden death, you may not need to see your doctor often. But you will need a checkup anytime your symptoms change or get worse.

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How can hypertrophic cardiomyopathy be treated?

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Many people who have hypertrophic cardiomyopathy don't have symptoms and don't need treatment. If the condition causes symptoms or more serious heart problems, treatment may include medicines, a device called an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD), or procedures to reduce the size of the overgrown part of your heart.