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 Dr. George Jacob
Heart Infocenter

Holistic-online.com

Cardiomyopathy

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is a group of heart disorders in which the walls of the ventricles thicken. Usually, any thickening of the muscular walls of the heart is from the muscle's reaction to an increased workload.

Risk Factors

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is often found in:

  • People with a birth defect

  • In adults with acromegaly (from excessive growth hormone in the blood.)

  • People who have pheochromocytoma (a tumor that produces adrenaline.)

  • People with neurofibromatosis, a hereditary condition.

Here is the chain of effects that leads to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy:

  1. The heart becomes thicker and stiffer than normal.

  2. As a result, the heart become more resistant to filling with blood from the lungs.

  3. This leads to back pressure in the lung veins.

  4. This, in turn, can cause fluid to accumulate in the lungs.

  5. The person, as a result, becomes chronically short of breath.

  6. As the ventricle walls thicken, they may block the flow of blood, preventing the heart from filling properly.

Symptoms

Symptoms of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy include:

  • Faintness

  • Chest pain

  • Palpitations produced by irregular heartbeats

  • Heart failure with shortness of breath

  • Sudden death may result from irregular heartbeats

Diagnosis

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is usually diagnosed from physical examination. It has a characteristic sound that can be identified by an experienced physician through a stethoscope. 

The diagnosis is confirmed by further testing, if necessary, from:

An echocardiogram

Electrocardiogram (ECG)

Chest x-ray

Cardiac catheterization may be necessary if surgery is being considered.

Prognosis

About 4 percent of people with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy die each year. Death is usually sudden. Death from chronic heart failure is less common.

Treatment

The objective of the treatment is to reduce the heart's resistance to filling with blood between heartbeats. Beta-blockers and calcium channel blockers are the main treatment.

Surgery to remove some heart muscle improves the outflow of blood from the heart, but it's performed only on people whose symptoms are incapacitating despite drug therapy. Surgery can relieve symptoms, but it doesn't lower the risk of death.

Alternative and Complementary Treatments

See cardiomyopathy for alternative and complementary treatment recommendations.

Caution: Cardiomyopathy is a life-threatening condition. If you suspect you or someone you know is suffering from cardiomyopathy, seek medical assistance immediately.

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