Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy symptoms

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Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Microchapters


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Editors-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1], Cafer Zorkun, M.D. [2], Caitlin J. Harrigan [3], Martin S. Maron, M.D., and Barry J. Maron, M.D.



The clinical course of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is variable. Many patients are asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic. The symptoms of HCM include:

  1. Dyspnea (shortness of breath)
  2. Chest pain (sometimes known as angina)
  3. Palpitations
  4. Lightheadedness
  5. Fatigue
  6. Fainting or syncope
  7. Sudden cardiac death

Dyspnea is largely due to increased stiffness of the left ventricle, which impairs filling of the ventricles and leads to elevated pressure in the left ventricle and left atrium. Symptoms are not closely related to the presence or severity of an outflow tract gradient [1]. Oftentimes, symptoms mimic those of congestive heart failure (esp. activity intolerance & dyspnea), but it must be noted that treatment is very different. To treat with diuretics (a mainstay of CHF treatment) will exacerbate symptoms in hypertrophic cardiomyopathy by decreasing ventricular volume and increasing outflow resistance.

Risk factors for sudden death in individuals with HCM include a young age at first diagnosis (age < 30 years), an episode of aborted sudden death, a family history of HCM with sudden death of relatives, specific mutations in the genes encoding for troponin T and myosin, sustained supraventricular or ventricular tachycardia, recurrent syncope, ventricular septal wall thickness over 3 cm, hypotensive response to exercise, syncope (especially in children), and bradyarrhythmias (slow rhythms of the heart)[2]


  1. Braunwauld E. The Cardiomyopathies, in Braunwald's Heart Disease, 7th ed, D Zipes, et al (eds). Philadelphia, Saunders, 2005
  2. Maron BJ, Cecchi F, McKenna WJ. Risk factors and stratification for sudden cardiac death in patients with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Br Heart J. 1994 Dec; 72(6 Suppl):S13–8. (Medline abstract) and the Task Force on Sudden Cardiac Death of the European Society of Cardiology link Note: Guideline withdraw

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