Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy

U-M One of 14 Clinics in the U.S. Treating the Disorder

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is a common genetic cardiac disorder affecting 1 in 500 people. It affects both men and women of all ages, and is characterized by abnormal thickening of the heart muscle. The University of Michigan is one of only 14 clinics in the country specializing in the treatment of this challenging disorder, offering a multidisciplinary approach that is both comprehensive in diagnosis and treatment, and individualized for every patient.

The heart-muscle thickening that occurs with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy usually occurs within the left ventricle, the main pumping chamber of the heart. This thickening may interfere with the normal functioning of the heart by:

  • Narrowing the outflow of blood from the left ventricle
  • Reducing the ability of the heart to relax and fill with blood
  • Reducing the ability of the valves of the heart to function properly

Our team includes skilled practitioners from many fields, including physicians and nurses specializing in cardiology, cardiac surgery and genetics. This allows us to provide cutting-edge treatment, including the latest imaging techniques, medication-based therapies, interventional and surgical procedures, family screening, sophisticated genetic testing and genetic counseling.

In fact, through our work with genetic testing for our patients, we’ve discovered a need for expanding our practice beyond hypertrophic cardiomyopathy to include other genetic cardiac disorders, including:

  • Left ventricular noncompaction (heart muscle remains spongy instead of turning solid during development in the left ventricle)
  • Arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (scar tissue and/or fat replacing damaged heart muscle – leading cause of sudden death in children and athletes)
  • Dilated cardiomyopathy (enlarged left ventricle is unable to pump blood as forcefully as needed)

Multidisciplinary Team, Multiple Options Individualized for You

The diagnosis of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is made by a combination of ECG, echocardiogram, family history and physical examination by a physician. Many patients have a heart murmur on examination as the first clue to diagnosis. Others have symptoms or a known family history of the disorder. Genetic testing is available for patients that can help provide a definitive diagnosis and is a valuable and efficient means of screening family members.

Alleviating Cardiomyopathy Symptoms, Preventing Complications

There is no cure for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, therefore treatment is aimed at alleviating symptoms and preventing complications. Treatment generally begins with medical management, such as a beta blocker, which slows the heart rate and lowers blood pressure. If medical management does not provide the necessary results, other treatment options are available, including a septal myectomy, which reduces the muscle thickening. While this is open-heart surgery, the benefits are immediate, improving symptoms in 90% of patients. And you can be back to work within 4-6 weeks. For patients with life-threatening heart rhythm abnormalities, a pacemaker or implantable Cardioverter-Defibrillator may be necessary to re-establish a regular heart rate or rhythm.

Because so much still needs to be learned about hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, and about how best to treat it, our clinic has an active research program. Patients and families can assist in this search for new options by agreeing to participate in clinical trials and to allow their tissues, genetic samples and/or data to be used in research.

Patient Resources

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Information Guide

Make an Appointment

To make an appointment to discuss your need for treatment, contact us toll-free at 888-287-1082 or email us at CVCCallCtr@med.umich.edu.