Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy refers to the abnormal thickening of the heart muscle

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is an inherited condition characterised by an abnormal thickening of the heart muscle.

In a majority of cases, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy doesn’t impact the quality of life nor the lifespan of the affected individual. However, some patients show significant symptoms, and the disease can increase the risk of sudden death.

“If one of your parents has ​been diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, you stand a 50 per cent chance of carrying this genetic disease too,” says Dr Tang Hak Chiaw​, Senior ​Consultant, Department of Cardi​ology, National Heart Centre ​Singapo​​re​ (NHCS), a member of the SingHe​alth​ group.

Cardiomyopathy means “disease of the heart muscle”, and hypertrophic means “thickening”. In hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, different parts of the he​​​art muscle can bec​ome thickened. Typically, the septum, or muscular wall between the right and left sides of the heart, is affected.

In some cases, the thickening of the septum will obstruct the proper flow of blood out of the heart. This is called left ventricular outflow tract obstruction. This obstruction is sometimes associated with backflow of blood from a valve (mitral valve). This backflow is called mitral regurgitation.

Symptoms o​f hypertrophic cardiomyopathy

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy may be diagnosed during a routine exam, when a doctor detects an abnormal heart sound. As mentioned, some patients don’t show any symptoms.

If there are symptoms, they tend to manifest after puberty and stay stable throughout adult life. These symptoms can include the following:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Heart palpitations
  • Giddiness or near-fainting episodes​

Most of these symptoms will generally appear when the person is exercising, but not necessarily.

Diagnosing hypertrophic cardiomyopa​thy

Doctors can diagnose hypertrophic cardiomyopathy using card​iac tests such as an electrocardiogram (ECG) and an echocardiogram.

See next page to discover the​ ​potential complic​​ations and treatments for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy​.​​​

Ref: S13​