Mayo Clinic: My dad was diagnosed with hypertrophic
cardiomyopathy at age 52. He has been on medication for a few
months, but doctors said he likely will need surgery, even
though his symptoms are very mild. Is surgery always necessary
for people with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy? Should my
siblings and I be tested for the condition?
goal of treatment for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is to
control its symptoms. Surgery can be a useful option for some
people, but itís not always necessary. Because this
condition is genetic, it is a good idea for you and your
siblings to talk with your doctors about being evaluated for
cardiomyopathy is a condition where the heart muscle, called
the myocardium, becomes thick. This thickening of the heart is
not caused by an underlying condition, such as high blood
pressure or heart valve problems. Instead, it is an inherited
disease. People are born with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
Most commonly, the heart muscle thickens during the teenage
years. However, symptoms of the disease can appear later in
people with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy donít know they have
it, and the disease may not cause any symptoms. When it does,
the most common symptom is shortness of breath during
activity. It also may cause fatigue, fainting and chest pain.
These symptoms often happen when blood has difficulty getting
out of the heart due to the thickened muscle. The medical term
for this is obstruction. As the heart muscle thickens, it can
become stiff, and that also may lead to symptoms.
the heart muscle is abnormal, the electrical system of the
heart can be affected, causing abnormal heart rhythms, or
arrhythmias. This can lead to a sensation of fluttering, rapid
or irregular heartbeats. People with hypertrophic
cardiomyopathy also may have an increased risk for sudden
death related to the heart. Heart testing can help doctors
better define that risk.
hypertrophic cardiomyopathy causes symptoms, the first line of
treatment, as in your fatherís situation, is usually
medication. Medications may be used to relax the heart muscle
and to slow the heart rate, so that the heart can pump more
efficiently. The most common drugs used for hypertrophic
cardiomyopathy include beta blockers and calcium channel
medication isnít enough to keep symptoms in check, then a
surgical procedure may be appropriate. A procedure called a
septal myectomy is considered the gold standard for treating
this disease. It involves removing the portion of the
thickened heart muscle that is obstructing blood flow. That
allows blood to flow more freely through the heart. For most
people, symptoms of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy significantly
improve after this surgery, with long-lasting results.
hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is a genetic condition, it can be
inherited. The genetics involved in hypertrophic
cardiomyopathy are complicated, and, many times, an evaluation
by a genetic counselor is appropriate. Everyone who has
hypertrophic cardiomyopathy should encourage his or her
parents, siblings and children to be screened for the disease.
commonly, family members can be screened with repeated
ultrasounds of the heart (echocardiograms) to see if the heart
muscle is thickened or if other findings suggest hypertrophic
cardiomyopathy. In some cases, blood tests can show if you
have the genetic mutation for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
People diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy need to be
followed closely by a cardiologist. But, if you donít have
symptoms, you may not need any medications or other treatment.