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UPMC Media Relations 

UPMC Establishes Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Center

PITTSBURGH, March 8, 2010 – UPMC has established a center to treat patients with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), a condition in which the heart muscle is abnormally thick without apparent cause. Recognizing the need for a coordinated approach to treat this complex disease, the UPMC Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Center provides a central location for patients and families to receive HCM services including genetic counseling, cardiac imaging, stress testing, nutritional consultation and psychological care.

Symptoms of HCM include chest pain, dizziness, fainting, high blood pressure, heart palpitations and shortness of breath, but often are mistaken for other conditions, such as asthma, anxiety, depression or other cardiac problems. Extreme cases of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy may lead to heart failure, or even sudden death. However, most patients do not experience any symptoms and do not know that they have the disease.

“Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is a genetic disease that affects more than 600,000 people in the United States, but only 20 percent of these individuals know that they have it,” said Joon Sup Lee, M.D., clinical director, UPMC Cardiovascular Institute. “It occurs in people of all ages, but it’s the leading cause of cardiac death in young athletes.”

Although HCM often is mentioned in the context of the sudden collapse of competitive athletes, research shows that this represents only a small portion of the entire patient population.

“Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is a challenging disease to diagnose and treat because the symptoms often mimic other conditions, and some patients experience no symptoms at all,” said Ferhaan Ahmad, M.D., Ph.D., director, UPMC Cardiovascular Genetics Center. “This center brings together teams of cardiologists, geneticists and researchers dedicated to evaluating, diagnosing and treating patients with HCM.”

The UPMC Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Center has locations at UPMC Presbyterian and Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, offering both adult and pediatric patients access to state-of-the-art HCM care in collaboration with their personal cardiologists. To schedule an appointment, call (412) 647-6000. For other questions relating to the center or to HCM, call 1-877-HCM-UPMC (426-8762) or email

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