Learn more about the UPMC Center for Inherited Heart Disease experts.
Image of a normal heart.
Image of a heart with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
HCM is heart disease that causes the muscle fibers of the heart — mainly in the left ventricle — to thicken. It often affects the heart's ability to pump blood.
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is the most common type of inherited heart disease in the U.S., affecting about 1 in 500 adults.
The heart's left ventricle, or lower chamber, pumps blood filled with oxygen back into your body. The septum — a wall of tissue inside the heart — divides the heart's left and right lower chambers.
In HCM, the heart muscle in the septum or elsewhere in the heart's left side gets thick. This thickening might affect how blood flows, but sometimes it doesn't.
There are two types of HCM:
People with HCM often inherit the condition, meaning their parents pass gene mutations on to them. This affects how these genes make proteins that tell the heart muscle how to grow and contract to pump blood.
If someone in your family has HCM, tell your doctor. You might need to have a screening test to see if you have it too.
You might be at risk for HCM if someone in your family has the condition. But some people are the first in their family to have it.
Many people with genetic HCM don't have symptoms. Or they're able to manage any symptoms they have.
But HCM can cause complications, such as:
If you have HCM, it's crucial to routinely see your doctor to track your condition.
The right HCM care helps you manage your disease and live a healthy life.
People with inherited HCM don't always have symptoms.
But some people have:
Sometimes, people die suddenly. HCM is the most common cause of sudden cardiac death in young people.
If your family has history of HCM or you feel symptoms, your doctor will screen you for the condition.
Doctors use different tests to diagnose HCM.
Sometimes, doctors order genetic testing for people with a family history of HCM. Using a blood sample, doctors look for gene changes that cause the condition.
Your care team at UPMC will design a treatment plan that's right for you.
Goals of HCM care are to:
Doctors treat inherited HCM in several ways.
Doctors use drugs that help control blood flow and regulate heart beats to manage HCM symptoms.
Doctors sometimes suggest invasive procedures when HCM causes decreased blood flow.
These procedures include:
UPMC is one of the only centers in the region that offers these surgeries to people with HCM.
Your physician may also discuss lifestyle changes that can help you manage your condition.