Skip to Content
cardiomyopathy (say "hy-per-TROH-fik kar-dee-oh-my-AWP-uh-thee") happens when
the heart muscle grows too thick, so the heart gets bigger and its
chambers get smaller. Many people
have no symptoms and live a normal life with few problems. But in some people with this condition:
People who exercise
often and hard may have changes in their heart muscle that can
be confused with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. This condition is
called athlete's heart syndrome. It is harmless. When an athlete stops
training, the heart will return to a normal size.
genes cause the heart to grow more than it should.
cardiomyopathy is the most common
genetic disease of the heart. This means it runs in families. About 1 in 500 adults has this condition.footnote 1
You are at risk for hypertrophic
cardiomyopathy if either of your parents or a brother or sister has it or
died suddenly at a young age. Talk to your doctor about
You may not have any symptoms. Or you might:
A rapid or irregular heartbeat or
fainting spells are signs of an arrhythmia, which makes sudden death more
Your doctor will do a physical exam and ask you about any health problems you've had and about
any family history of heart disease or early and sudden death. You may need tests such as:
Your doctor may refer
you to a doctor who specializes in heart problems (cardiologist). Based on your
symptoms, past health, and family history, the specialist can assess your risk
for sudden death. People who are at high risk will need regular checkups. If you are at low risk for sudden death, you may not need to see your doctor often. But you will need a checkup anytime your symptoms change or get worse.
Many people who have hypertrophic
cardiomyopathy don't have symptoms and don't need treatment. If you do have symptoms, your treatment will depend on what your symptoms are and
whether you develop heart failure or an abnormal heart rhythm.
Learning about hypertrophic cardiomyopathy:
Living with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy:
Ommen SR, et al. (2011). Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. In V Fuster et al., eds., Hurst's The Heart, 13th ed., vol. 1, pp. 817–864. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Other Works Consulted
Fifer MA, Vlahakes GJ (2008). Management of symptoms in hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Circulation, 117(3): 429–439.
Gersh BJ, et al. (2011). 2011 ACCF/AHA guideline for the diagnosis and treatment of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy: A report of the American College of Cardiology Foundation/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines. Circulation, 124(24): e783–e831.
Ho CY (2012). Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in 2012. Circulation, 125(11): 1432–1438.
Maron BJ (2012). Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. In RO Bonow et al., eds., Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine, 9th ed., vol. 2, pp. 1582–1594. Philadelphia: Saunders.
McKenna WJ, Elliott PM (2007). Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. In EJ Topol, ed., Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine, 3rd ed., pp. 482–501. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerAdam Husney, MD - Family MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerRakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
Current as ofFebruary 20, 2015
Current as of:
February 20, 2015
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2015 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
© Copyright 2016 Rush-Copley Medical Center • 2000 Ogden Avenue; Aurora, IL 60504
Main: 630-978-6200 • Physician Referral & Information: 630-978-6700 or 866-4COPLEY (866-426-7539)