If you are diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), our doctors will work closely together to form a safe and effective treatment plan tailored to your condition, your family, and you. With good healthcare from a specialty center like ours, HCM patients can look forward to a long and fulfilling life.
Each patient is unique and may need one or more of the following treatment options:
Common medications for patients with HCM include the following:
- Beta Blockers and Calcium Channel Blockers: These medications slow the heart rate and force of contraction, which allows the heart to fill with more blood on each beat. Some patients with HCM benefit from these medications.
- Disopyramide: This medication is occasionally added to beta blockers or calcium channel blockers if patients continue to have symptoms.
- Blood Thinners: These medications are used for prevent strokes in HCM patients with certain arrhythmias.
Evaluation for the Risk of Sudden Cardiac Death and Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD)
Some patients with HCM have an increased risk of sudden cardiac death, some do not.
Sudden cardiac death is the sudden, abrupt loss of heart function. The electrical rhythm that controls the lower chambers of the heart becomes chaotic, and the heart begins to quiver instead of pumping blood.
Depending on your risk for sudden cardiac death, our team may recommend an implantable cardiac defibrillator, or ICD. An ICD is a small device implanted near your collar bone. If your heart is beating dangerously fast or chaotically, the ICD sends a shock to your heart muscle to restore a normal rhythm and prevent sudden cardiac death.
Some patients with HCM have a thickening of the wall that divides the heart, known as the septal wall or septum. This thickening can obstruct blood flow out of the heart and may require surgery. Septal myectomy is a open-heart surgical procedure where a small amount of the septal wall is removed, allowing blood to exit the heart without obstruction.
Alcohol Septal Ablation
In a small number of patients that require relief of their obstruction, an alcohol septal ablation is performed instead of surgery. Doctors perform alcohol septal ablation through a catheter, a small tube that they insert into a blood vessel.
The doctor injects alcohol into the thickened septum to make it thinner and increase blood flow out of the heart.
Atrial Fibrillation Ablation
Atrial fibrillation is an irregular heartbeat, or arrhythmia, that can occur in patients with HCM. Atrial fibrillation is not life-threatening, but could limit your quality of life.
Ablation, a possible treatment of atrial fibrillation, is a procedure that involves ablating (destroying) a very small, targeted area of the heart muscle that is responsible for the abnormal rhythm.
Advanced Heart Failure Therapies
In rare cases, HCM and its complications may continue to worsen even after trying the appropriate therapies listed above. These patients may benefit from a more advanced therapy to restore heart function such as a left ventricular assist device or heart transplantation.
Our genetic counselor will help you understand the results of your genetic test. She will educate you and your family on how your genes have impacted the health of your heart muscle. She will also help you identify other family members who are at risk of HCM.
If you are of child-bearing age, your treatment plan will include important discussions about family planning and the risk of passing on HCM to your children.
In all individuals, physical and mental well-being are closely linked. Patients with genetic conditions like HCM often benefit from talking with a mental health counselor. Our patients are provided with counseling services to help them manage feelings about their condition.
Follow-up Visits and Testing
Your doctors will want to see you on a regular basis to monitor your heart function, adjust your medications, and see how you are feeling. Patients with HCM typically have the following plan for follow-up:
- Office visit with your cardiologist every year
- EKG every year
- Holter monitor every year
- Echocardiogram every year
- Stress test every 2 to 3 years