FAQ

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy: when the heart becomes hard as a stone

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is a disease in which the heart muscle becomes abnormally thick (hypertrophy). Thickening of the heart muscle can make it harder for the heart to pump blood.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy often goes undiagnosed because many people with this condition have few or no symptoms and can lead normal lives without major problems. However, in a small number of people with HCM, the thickening of the heart muscle can cause shortness of breath, chest pain, or problems in the electrical system of the heart. These alterations lead to abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias) or sudden death.

Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy may include one or more of the following:

– Chest pain, especially during exercise
– Fainting, especially during or immediately after exercise or exertion
– Heart murmur, which a doctor could detect by listening to your heart
– Sensation of rapid, pounding or pounding heartbeats

– Shortness of breath, especially during exercise

When to consult a doctor

A number of conditions can cause shortness of breath and heart palpitations. It is important to get a quick and accurate diagnosis and appropriate care. Consult your doctor if you have a family history of HCM or any other symptoms associated with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
Call the local emergency number if you experience any of the following symptoms for more than a few minutes:

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– Fast or irregular heartbeat
– Difficulty breathing
– Chest pain

Causes

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is usually caused by abnormal genes (gene mutations) that cause the heart muscle to become abnormally thick.
In most people with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, the muscle wall (septum) between the heart’s two lower chambers (ventricles) becomes thicker than normal. As a result, the thicker wall can block the flow of blood out of the heart. This is called hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy.

If there is no significant blockage of blood flow, it is called non-obstructive hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. However, the main pumping chamber of the heart (left ventricle) can become rigid.

This makes it difficult for the heart to relax and reduces the amount of blood the ventricle can hold and send to the body with each heartbeat. People with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy also have an abnormal arrangement of heart muscle cells (myofiber disorganization). This can trigger arrhythmias in some people.

Risk factors

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is usually passed down through families (hereditary).
If one of your parents has hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, you have a 50% chance of having the genetic mutation for the disease.
Parents, children, or siblings of someone with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy should have their doctor screened for the disease.

Complications

Many people with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) do not have significant health problems. But complications of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy can include:

– Atrial fibrillation

The thickening of the heart muscle, along with abnormal heart cell structure, can cause changes in the electrical system of the heart, resulting in fast or irregular heartbeats. Atrial fibrillation can also increase the risk of blood clots forming, which can travel to the brain and cause a stroke.

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– Blockage of blood circulation

In many people, the thickening of the heart muscle blocks blood flow out of the heart, causing shortness of breath on exertion, chest pain, dizziness, and fainting.

– Mitral valve problems

If thickening of the heart muscle blocks blood flow out of the heart, the valve between the left atrium and the left ventricle (mitral valve) may not close properly. As a result, blood may flow backward into the left atrium (mitral valve regurgitation), which may lead to worsening of symptoms.

– Dilated cardiomyopathy

In a very small number of people with HCM, the thickened heart muscle can become weak and ineffective. The ventricle becomes larger (dilated) and its pumping ability becomes less powerful.

– Heart failure

The thickened heart muscle may eventually become too stiff to effectively fill the heart with blood. As a result, your heart cannot pump enough blood to meet your body’s needs.

– Sudden cardiac death

Rarely, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy can cause sudden cardiac death in people of any age. Since many people with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy don’t realize they have it, they are in real danger. It can occur in apparently healthy young people, including athletes and other active young adults.

Prevention

There is no known prevention of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. But it is important to identify the disease as early as possible to guide treatment and prevent complications.

If you have a first-degree relative, parent, sibling, or child with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, doctors may recommend genetic testing to screen for the condition. However, not everyone with HCM has a currently detectable mutation.

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If genetic testing is not done or the results are not helpful, your doctor may recommend regular echocardiograms if a family member has hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Teenagers and competitive athletes should be screened once a year. Adults who do not play sports should be screened every five years.

* The information and services available on pressesante.com in no way replace the consultation of competent health professionals. [HighProtein-Foods.com]

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