What you should know about HYPERTROPHIC CARDIOMYOPATHY 


Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy - HCM (pronounced Hyper-tro-fic Cardio-MY-opathy) is characterized by excessive thickening of the heart muscle. HCM is an equal opportunity disease affecting people of all ages, ethnicities and genders equally. It affects 1 in 500 (over 600,000) people, making it more prevalent than muscular dystrophy, cystic fibrosis, and AIDS in the USA. HCM is the most common genetic cardiac disease and it is generally inherited.

HCM is the most common identifiable cause of sudden cardiac death (SCD) in young people and is the leading cause of death in competitive athletes. SCD occurs in approximately 1 percent of the people diagnosed with HCM and SCD is frequently the only symptom. Each year approximately 125-200 athletes will die and 1/3 will have HCM. A young athlete dies every 3 days from SCD and approximately every week a young athlete dies from HCM. 



What can you do to protect your loved ones?

Know your family:

If you have a family history of heart related or unexpected sudden death during physical activity or during a seizure, or any other unexplained sudden death of an otherwise healthy family member under the age of 50 it is important to have your heart checked by a cardiologist.

Know the signs and symptoms of HCM:

  Unusual shortness of breath with or without activity

  Chest pain or pressure

  Fainting (syncope)/nearly fainting

  Lightheadedness/Dizziness during or after physical activity

  Palpitations – awareness of your heart beating hard or fast

  Unexplained fatigue/tiredness

There are a few diagnosis that raise concern and should be looked at more closely to ensure the diagnosis of HCM has not been missed they include:

  Innocent heart murmur

  Athletically or Exercised induced Asthma

  Panic Attacks                  


  Mitral Valve Prolapse

What to do if you have a family history of heart disease or sudden death and you or your loved one has had any of the symptoms noted above:

  See a CARDIOLOGIST and ask about HCM.  

For more information on HCM visit HCMA at www.4HCM.org and American Heart Association at www.heart.org.  

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Animation - Video of normal heart function vs one with HCM.

Related information visit these helpful websites:  

Sudden Cardiac Arrest - Raising Awareness About SCA and Early Defibrillation

Parent Heart Watch - Protecting Youth From Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Compassionate Friends - Supporting Family After a Child Dies