Heart & Vascular Institute

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy

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An accurate and early diagnosis could save your life

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or HCM, is an inherited disease that causes the heart muscle to thicken. When your heart muscle is abnormally thick, it can make it difficult for your heart to pump blood. This can cause shortness of breath or issues with the electrical system of your heart causing arrhythmia's, or abnormal heart rhythms. This disease can be a cause of heart attack in young athletes. If you have close relatives that have been diagnosed with HCM or symptoms of HCM, contact the heart and vascular experts at Novant Health to help your determine if you are at risk for this disease.

Symptoms of HCM can vary and many people do not show signs or complications from this disease. However symptoms can include:

  • Shortness of breath that is worse during exercise
  • Chest pain that is worse during exercise
  • Fainting during or just after exercise
  • Fluttering (palpitations) or pounding heartbeats
  • Heart murmur

Your doctor may use an echocardiogram to make a diagnosis for HCM by checking the thickness of your heart muscle as well as blood flow and heart valve function. He may also suggest genetic testing if you have a family history of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Find a Novant Health location near you to learn more about signs and symptoms of HCM.