Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy -- Child

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is a form of cardiomyopathy . This is a condition in which the heart muscle thickens due to genetic problems with the muscle’s structure. As the muscle thickens, it must work harder to pump blood. This strains the heart muscle. Sometimes, the thickened muscle gets in the way of the blood leaving the heart and causes a blockage. This blockage can cause a nearby valve to become leaky. HCM can cause uneven muscle growth. This can cause the heart to pump in a disorganized way. Rarely, it can cause abnormal heart rhythms that can be fatal.

  • Causes

    HCM may be caused by a gene that causes an abnormality in the heart muscle. It can be inherited or it can happen from changes in the genes over time.

  • Definition

    Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is a form of cardiomyopathy. This is a condition in which the heart muscle thickens due to genetic problems with the muscle’s structure. As the muscle thickens, it must work harder to pump blood. This strains the heart muscle. Sometimes, the thickened muscle gets in the way of the blood leaving the heart and causes a blockage. This blockage can cause a nearby valve to become leaky. HCM can cause uneven muscle growth. This can cause the heart to pump in a disorganized way. Rarely, it can cause abnormal heart rhythms that can be fatal.

    Normal Heart and Heart With Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy
    Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

  • Diagnosis

    You will be asked about your child’s symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.

    Images may be taken of your child's bodily structures. This can be done with:

    • Echocardiography
    • Transesophageal echocardiogram
    • Heart catheter
    • Chest x-ray
    • MRI scan

    Your child's heart activity will be evaluated. This can be done with:

    • Stress test
    • Heart monitor

    Your child's bodily fluids will be tested. This can be done with blood tests.

  • Prevention

    If a family member has been diagnosed with HCM, your child should be screened for the condition.

  • Risk Factors

    Having a family member with HCM is a risk factor for your child.

  • Symptoms

    Symptoms may include:

    • Chest pain
    • Fainting, particularly during exercise
    • Lightheadedness, particularly following exercise
    • Heart palpitations
    • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
    • General fatigue
    • Tiring easily during exercise or activity

    These symptoms can be caused by some of the side effects of the condition, including abnormal heart beats. The blocked or reduced blood flow is usually the cause of symptoms like lightheadedness, fainting, and difficulty breathing. Babies with the condition may have the following symptoms:

    •  Fast, heavy breathing when feeding
    • Sweating when feeding
    • Tiredness or inactivity
    • Poor weight gain

    Some children may not have any symptoms. The condition may be suspected if there is a murmur, although not every person with HCM has a murmur and not all murmurs are due to HCM.

  • Treatment

    Treatment focuses on controlling symptoms and preventing complications. Talk with the doctor about the best treatment plan for your child. Treatment options include: