Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy occurs once the heart muscle becomes too thick. Due to this, the heart becomes enlarged and the chambers grow smaller. Many individuals do not have any symptoms and live a normal life with only a few issues. In some cases, individuals with the condition have the following:
- The heart does not receive enough oxygen and blood which results to chest pain
- Rapid, slow or erratic heartbeat. In rare instances, this can lead to sudden death.
- The heart could not pump blood properly or could not relax in between beats normally. In rare instances, this leads to heart failure.
Individuals who exercise often and strenuously might have changes in the heart muscle that can be confused with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy which is called athlete’s heart syndrome. It is relatively harmless and the heart returns to normal size when the athlete stops training.
What are the possible causes?
Remember that certain genes can cause the heart to grow bigger than it should. The condition is considered as the most common genetic disease affecting the heart. It is likely to run in families.
An individual is at risk for developing hypertrophic cardiomyopathy if either parents or siblings have it or died abruptly at a young age. A doctor should be consulted for testing.
What are the indications?
An individual might not have any symptoms or the following might be present:
- Tiredness and shortness of breath when active
- Chest pain or heavy, tight sensation in the chest. It is often triggered by exercise when the heart is required to strain.
- Dizziness or feeling faint often after being active
- Feeling that the heart is racing, pounding or erratically beating
An irregular heartbeat or fainting spells are indications of arrhythmia which increases the risk for sudden death.
Many individuals with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy do not have symptoms, thus treatment is not needed. In case symptoms develop, the treatment depends on the symptoms and whether heart failure or an abnormal heart rhythm develops.
- Medications to manage the symptoms such as chest pain or shortness of breath
- For serious issues with the heart rhythm such as atrial fibrillation, medications to control the heart rate or rhythm can be given to prevent blood clots.
- If at risk for sudden death from an arrhythmia, an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator is required. This is the same as a pacemaker that can prevent or stop dangerous heart rhythms.
- In case medications are not effective and the heart is not pumping adequate blood, a procedure is performed to reduce the size of the overgrown region of the heart which is called myectomy. An alternative is to destroy it by injecting alcohol into the artery that supplies that region of the heart.