health matters, heart

Health Talk: Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy

What Hypertrophic Cardiomypathy Is

Hypertrophic Cardiomypathy, or otherwise known as HCM, is a kind of heart condition or disease in which the heart muscle or myocardium is abnormally thickened, making it hard for the muscle to pump enough blood. Aside from this, the thickening of the heart muscle also causes shortness of breath and problems in the heart’s electrical system and results in deadly abnormal heart rhythms or what we call arrhythmias.

In  HCM, the muscle that surrounds the left ventricle becomes affected, as well as the right ventricle some of the times, depending on the degree of thickening that varies in different places. When left untreated, this may lead to several problems like the stiffening of the affected heart muscle which may cause the left ventricle to have difficulty in filling or supplying blood normally to the heart. Other than this, the thickening of the heart may also obstruct or stop the blood flow from the left ventricle to the aorta and it may also affect the heart valves’ function as well as the electrical conducting system, causing abnormal heart rates to develop.

HCM is a type of heart disorder that is inherited and it tends to affect men more than it does to women.

How is HCM diagnosed?

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy may be diagnosed or suspected by the symptoms that  person may be having, family history, changes in the ECG (electrocardiogram) , changes in the chest x-ray, and ultrasound scanning of heart or what we call echocardiogram.

How is it different or similar from/with the other types of cardiomyopathy?

Aside from HCM, there are three other types of cardiomyopathy:

1) Dilated cardiomyopathy: a type of heart disorder wherein the heart becomes enlarged

2) Restrictive cardiomyopathy : a type of heart disorder wherein the heart cannot relax properly between heartbeats

3) Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy: this is a rare type of heart disorder wherein only the right
side of the heart is being affected

Who are most likely  or at risk to have HCM?

According to a research , hypertrophic cardiomyopathy or HCM affects about one in 500 million people and although it may be possible for children to have this condition at birth, it is mostly common to develop in adults.

What Are The Causes of Hypertrophic Cardiomypathy?

One of the possible causes of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is the increase of blood pressure. Aside from this, it is passed on through different families or inherited, caused by abnormal genes or simply the cause may also be unknown to people having this heart disorder.

What Are The Symptoms of Hypertrophic Cardiomypathy?

There are common symptoms of HCM:

1) Shortness of breath – people with HCM may experience this during their exercise, especially with a mild condition

2) Chest pain or angina – Aside from the shortness of breath, they can also experience this either only during
their exercise or even at rest if it becomes severe wherein the pain occurs due to insufficient blood and oxygen
supply required by the needs of the heart’s thickened muscle.

3) Palpitations – People with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy may also develop or experience heart abnormalities,
causing them to experience palpitations.

4) Dizziness and fainting attacks – This type of symptom is more likely common to occur during exercise but may
also happen when a person is at rest due to the blood’s output or from heart arrhythmias.

What Are The Possible Complications of HCM?

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, when left untreated, may cause several complications. Some of the complications may include:

1) Arrhythmias – an abnormal heart rate or heartbeat rhythm.

2) Endocarditis – a type of complication wherein the inside lining of the heart chambers and heart valves become
infected, which can cause serious illness when neglected or not promptly treated.

3) Death – A small number of people with HCM is at possible risk of sudden collapse and death when their condition
remains untreated and this may be probably due to sudden development of severe arrhythmia.

How can HCM be treated? Is there any possible cure?

There’s no possible treatment that can reverse some changes in the heart muscle. However, it may help ease or alleviate symptoms or even prevent complications that may arise.

1) Medication  – relaxes the heart muscle and slows the heartbeat rate in order for the heart to pump  more
efficiently. Some medications recommended are beta-blockers (e.g. Atenolol), calcium channel blockers (e.g.
Verapamil or Diltiazem) or even sodium blocker Dsopyramide (Norpace).

2) Septal Myectomy – it is an open-heart procedure wherein the thickened, overgrown septum between the ventricles
are removed in order to improve the blood flow and reduce mitral regurgitation. This type of procedure is only
recommended when the medications taken don’t seem to help in relieving or alleviating the symptoms.

3) Septal Ablation – a type of surgical operation wherein a small part or portion of the thickened heart muscle is
destroyed by simply injecting an alcohol through a catheter into an artery supplying blood. This might cause
complications like heart block.

4) Implantable cardioverter- defibrillator/ICD – a device that’s quite similar to a pacemaker used to continuously
monitor a patient’s heartbeat and delivers a  precisely calibrated electrical shocks in order to restore a
normal heart rhythm just in case a life-threatening arrhythmia occurs.

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