Pronounced: hi-per-TRO-fik car-DEE-o-my-AH-pah-theeEn Español (Spanish Version)
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or HCM, is a form of cardiomyopathy. 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, which 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 the neighboring heart valve, called the mitral valve, to become leaky. HCM can cause uneven muscle growth which can cause the heart to pump in a disorganized way. Rarely, it can cause abnormal heart rhythms that can even be fatal.
There are three main types of cardiomyopathy:
Hypertrophic—can be divided into two types:
- Hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy (HOCM)—the muscle between the two valves of the heart becomes so enlarged that it obstructs the blood flow in the heart
- Non-obstructive hypertrophic cardiomyopathy—non-obstructive form, the enlarged muscle is not large enough to block blood flow
HCM can occur in people of all ages. But, it is usually most severe when it occurs in younger people. The diagnosis is only made in people who do not have other causes of cardiomyopathy (eg, amyloidosis, sarcoidosis, coronary or valvular heart disease, etc.)
Those with HCM are at an increased risk of sudden death. However, many individuals with HCM live a normal, healthy life with very few symptoms.
Normal Heart and Heart With Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
Causes of HCM include:
- A gene that causes the abnormal structure of the heart muscle. It can be inherited or can happen from changes in the genes over time.
- A defective gene that controls growth of the heart muscle
- A viral infection
In people over age 60, HCM is likely to be caused by or related to high blood pressure.
Last reviewedSeptember 2012by Michael J. Fucci, DO
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.