HCM (Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy)

UT Southwestern Medical Center Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Team. Front row, left to right: Pietro Bajona, M.D.; Micki Lacker, NP; Vivian Dimas, M.D.; Aslan Turer, M.D. Back row, left to right: Mark Link, M.D.; Vlad Zaha, M.D., Ph.D. Not pictured: Anuja Mathew, PA

The Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy program at UT Southwestern utilizes a multidisciplinary approach to deliver the best possible care for patients with HCM. Our HCM experts are highly dedicated to a comprehensive approach consisting of risk assessment, genetic counseling, and symptom management, which leads to a personalized plan of care for each of our patients.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), also known as idiopathic hypertrophic subaortic stenosis (IHSS) or hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy (HOCM), is a disorder in which the ventricular walls have gotten excessively thick. This makes it harder for the heart to pump out blood. HCM is usually asymmetrical, meaning one side of the heart is thicker than the other.

HCM is the most common genetic heart condition and is estimated to affect 1 in every 500 people, or at least 600,000 people in the U.S. This condition is usually inherited, but many times there is no obvious family history of the condition. A thickened ventricle can also be caused by high blood pressure or intense athletics. However, these are not the same as HCM and require different treatments. Making the appropriate diagnosis is very important in patient care.

HCM Symptoms

Symptoms of HCM include: 

  • Palpitations from abnormal heart rhythms
  • Angina (chest pain)
  • Fainting spells (syncope)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sudden cardiac death

Many patients with HCM do not have symptoms. It is important to be evaluated by a specialist if you or a member of your family has HCM, even if you are not experiencing any symptoms.

HCM Diagnosis

Your UT Southwestern Medical Center doctor may perform several tests to diagnose the problem. 

Common diagnostic tests include:

Physical exam
To detect heart murmurs typical for HCM and differentiate them from other heart conditions associated with murmurs
Electrocardiography
To look for evidence of muscle thickening and the presence of abnormal heart rhythms
Loop monitoring
To detect any arrhythmias or causes of palpitations that may be occurring
Echocardiography
To reveal increased muscle thickness and obstruction of blood flowing out of the heart. To differentiate HCM from other related cardiac conditions
MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
To better assess the amount of hypertrophy and the degree of scarring
Genetic screening
To understand whether there is a particular gene mutation that may be causing HCM and potentially use that information to screen other, at-risk members of the family
Cardiac catheterization
To assess coronary anatomy and degree of obstruction

HCM Treatment

HCM treatments can include:

  • Medications, including beta-blockers and calcium channel blockers, to reduce chest pain and other symptoms, especially during exercise
  • Antiarrhythmic therapy
  • Implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) and Subcutaneous ICDs (S-ICDs)
  • Alcohol septal ablation
  • Myectomy, which reduces left ventricle septum thickness
  • Heart transplant for HCM patients with end-stage heart failure 

Request an Appointment

To schedule an appointment with an HCM expert at UT Southwestern's facilities in Dallas or for more information about our services, request an appointment or call 214-645-8000.