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Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) (Familial Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy) Print E-mail

Dr. Kennedy Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is a genetic disorder of the heart characterized by increased thickness (hypertrophy) of the wall of the left ventricle, the largest of the four chambers of the heart. The disease can present at any time in life. It is the leading cause of sudden death in athletes and young people. It can be an inherited in an autosomal dominant manner; approximately 35% of HCM cases are thought to be inherited. All athletes participating in sports involving extreme exertion should be screened for this condition. Too many wonderful young men and women have dropped dead on the field of play.

Men and women with familial HCM stand a 50-50 chance of transmitting the HCM gene to each of their children. Measurement of the thickness of the left ventricle wall can predict who is most at risk for HMC. The test is done by echocardiography, a routine ultrasound test of the heart. Persons with a maximum wall thickness less than three-quarters of an inch (19 mm) are virtually free of risk for fatal cardiac arrest over the next 20 years whereas those with a wall thickness more than 1.2 inches (30 mm) have a 40% chance of fatal cardiac arrest during that time period. Patients in danger can be fitted with implantable defibrillators.



The information in this article is not meant to be medical advice.�Treatment for a medical condition should come at the recommendation of your personal physician.

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