Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy


Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is a complex form of cardiac disease that damages the muscle of the heart. It may result in hypertrophy or thickening of the heart muscle, stiffness in the left ventricle, mitral valve changes, and cellular modifications. The hypertrophy makes the heart work harder to pump blood.

Most people with HCM can lead regular lives, but it can be serious for some. The thickened heart muscle can cause shortness of breath, chest pain, or alterations in the heart’s electrical system, leading to life-threatening irregular heart rhythms or sudden cardiac death. Although in general, most people with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy have a low risk for sudden cardiac death, it is important to determine if one is among those who have a higher risk.


People suffering from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy may experience a range of symptoms or none. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is characterized by the following symptoms:

  • Chest pain, most common after exercise or physical activity, although it can also happen during rest or after meals.
  • Fainting or syncope, immediately following exertion or activity. Irregular cardiac rhythms or irregular blood vessel responses during exercise might cause fainting, or no cause can be detected.
  • Cardiac murmur, which is identified while listening to the heart.
  • Palpitations, racing, or fluttering sensation in the chest. Palpitations can be caused by abnormal heartbeats (arrhythmias) such as atrial fibrillation or ventricular tachycardia, both of which generate a fast heartbeat.
  • Breathing difficulties and weariness, especially with exertion. The cause is increased pressure in the left atrium and lungs.
  • Swelling in the lower body or in the veins of the neck.

Those who have a family history of HCM, or any signs or symptoms of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy should visit a healthcare provider for correct diagnosis and treatment. It may be an urgent medical emergency if one is experiencing fast or irregular heartbeat, chest pain, and trouble breathing. Go to the emergency room immediately.


Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy can be caused by several factors such as genetics, high blood pressure, and aging. In some cases, the cause is unknown.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy can be inherited from the parents and passed down to their children. Gene mutations that cause the heart muscle to thicken usually cause hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. This indicates that something is wrong with a gene that codes for cardiac muscle properties. The form of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy that occurs when a gene abnormality is present varies widely within the family. Some individuals with the hypertrophic cardiomyopathy gene may never develop the condition.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is most common in the septum. The septum is the muscular wall that separates the heart’s left and right sides. When the septum between the heart’s ventricles thickens, problems arise.

Hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy (HOCM) develops when the outflow tract blockage is caused by a narrowing of the septum, which can block or restrict blood flow from the left ventricle to the aorta. To counteract the narrowing or obstruction, the ventricles must pump more forcefully. This makes it difficult for the heart to relax and limits the amount of blood that the ventricle can store and send to the body with each beating.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy may cause cardiac muscle cells rearrangement or myofiber disarray. As a result, some people may have arrhythmias.

Risk factors

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy commonly manifests itself during adolescence, however it can appear at any age. People who have a family history of this disease are at a higher risk. A child has a 50% chance of carrying the genetic mutation if either parent has hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Early screening for this disease is recommended.