What is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy?
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (say "hy-per-TROH-fik kar-dee-oh-my-AWP-uh-thee") happens when the heart muscle grows too thick, so the heart gets bigger and its chambers get smaller. Many people have no symptoms and live a normal life with few problems. But in some people with this condition:
People who exercise often and hard may have changes in their heart muscle that can be confused with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. This condition is called athlete's heart syndrome. It is harmless. When an athlete stops training, the heart will return to a normal size.
What causes hypertrophic cardiomyopathy?
Certain genes cause the heart to grow more than it should.
You are at risk for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy if either of your parents or a brother or sister has it or died suddenly at a young age. Talk to your doctor about getting tested.
What are the symptoms?
You may not have any symptoms. Or you might:
A rapid or irregular heartbeat or fainting spells are signs of an arrhythmia, which makes sudden death more likely.
How is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy diagnosed?
Your doctor will do a physical exam and ask you about any health problems you've had and about any family history of heart disease or early and sudden death. You may need tests such as:
Your doctor may refer you to a doctor who specializes in heart problems (cardiologist). Based on your symptoms, past health, and family history, the specialist can assess your risk for sudden death. People who are at high risk will need regular checkups. If you are at low risk for sudden death, you may not need to see your doctor often. But you will need a checkup anytime your symptoms change or get worse.
How is it treated?
Many people who have hypertrophic cardiomyopathy don't have symptoms and don't need treatment. If you do have symptoms, your treatment will depend on what your symptoms are and whether you develop heart failure or an abnormal heart rhythm.
What can you do at home for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy?
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