Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy 


The Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) Center at The Christ Hospital is the region’s first, dedicated HCM Center. We offer comprehensive care for adults with HCM, a heart condition that causes your heart’s walls to thicken and can lead to heart failure. 

Here, you’ll find a team of cardiac specialists with expertise in all aspects of HCM. They work together to bring you the treatments proven to be best for patients with HCM. We focus on controlling symptoms, lowering your risk for sudden cardiac death, and helping you live a normal life.

At the Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Center, we personalize your care to focus on your needs and overall health. We offer the latest medications and advanced heart procedures and surgeries. 

We also provide education, genetic testing and counseling, and ongoing monitoring. Because we understand that HCM can affect you psychologically and physically, we address the mental and emotional aspects of your condition, as well. 

When you want the highest level of HCM care, trust the nationally recognized cardiology team at The Christ Hospital, Greater Cincinnati’s Heart HospitalSM

To learn more about HCM care at The Christ Hospital and schedule an appointment, please call 513-648-5555


What is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy? 

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is a heart condition that causes thickening and stiffening of your heart muscle. It most often affects the wall (septum) between your right and left ventricles, which are the heart’s lower chambers. HCM occurs in about 1 in 500 people and affects both children and adults. Usually, inherited alterations in certain genes cause HCM. 

HCM is a chronic condition, meaning it doesn’t go away. Early detection and treatment are important to keep HCM from getting worse and potentially causing other heart problems such as heart failure or heart rhythm disorders (arrhythmias) like AFib. 

AFib occurs when your heart’s upper chambers beat irregularly. It dramatically increases your risk for stroke. 

In rare cases, HCM can also cause sudden death. 

Types of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy 


  • Hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy is the most common type of HCM. It occurs when the thickened area of your heart limits blood flow. As a result, it’s hard for blood to move from your heart’s left ventricle to the aorta, the large artery that carries oxygen-rich blood to the rest of your body.

  • Hypertrophic nonobstructive cardiomyopathy also causes your heart muscle to thicken. It doesn’t block the flow of blood from your heart, but it can lead to HCM complications, such as irregular heart rhythms, heart failure and sudden death.


Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy symptoms 

HCM can vary from one person to the next. Some people have few or no symptoms. As a result, HCM may sometimes go undiagnosed or be misdiagnosed by doctors with little experience with the condition.

People who have signs and symptoms may get them at any age. They can include: 

  • Chest pain, especially with physical activity 

  • Dizziness or lightheadedness 

  • Fainting

  • Fatigue 

  • Heartbeats that are faster or stronger than usual or irregular

  • Shortness of breath, especially with physical activity

If you’ve been diagnosed with HCM and have symptoms that seem to be worsening or occurring more often, it’s important to bring them to your doctor’s attention. 

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy diagnosis 

If doctors think you could have HCM, they will talk with you about your medical and family history. HCM is usually inherited, so it’s important to know if others in your family have been diagnosed with the condition or experienced heart failure or cardiac arrest. 

Genetic testing will reveal if you have mutations that cause HCM to develop. Doctors will also perform a physical exam and likely order one or more tests. 

An echocardiogram is the test usually used to make a diagnosis. This test uses sound waves to create pictures of your heart. It can detect areas of abnormal thickness and show your heart’s ability to pump blood. 

Other commonly used diagnostic tests include: 

  • Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses radio waves and strong magnets to create pictures of your heart and show how it’s working. 

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG) measures your heart’s electrical signals. 

  • Holter monitor records your heart’s electrical signals over one or more days as you go about your daily activities. 

  • Stress test evaluates how your heart performs while working hard, such as when you’re on a treadmill. 

These tests may help confirm HCM or rule out other causes of symptoms.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy treatments 

If you’re diagnosed with HCM and have symptoms, the main goal of treatment is to help you feel better and have the best quality of life. However, doctors also focus on keeping the condition from getting worse and preventing sudden cardiac death. 

Part of your treatment will include helping you adopt a heart-healthy lifestyle by getting good nutrition and appropriate exercise. Medication, surgical and nonsurgical procedures, and implantable devices are available, as well. Doctors tailor treatment based on your needs. 

Medications 

Several medicines, including beta blockers and calcium channel blockers, can reduce HCM symptoms. 

Mavacamten is a newer medicine approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat HCM in select patients. It works by regulating how hard the heart pumps and has been shown to prevent the need for future surgeries. This medication is restricted to specialized cardiologists and is not widely available outside HCM clinics. 

Doctors may also prescribe several other medications. These medicines make it easier for the heart to pump blood and may: 

  • Help restore normal heart rhythms 

  • Lower blood pressure 

  • Reduce fluid in the body 

  • Slow heart rate 

  • Thin your blood to reduce the risk of blood clots and stroke

Surgery and other procedures 

If you have obstructive HCM and medicines don’t help, doctors may recommend surgery or other procedures. 

  • Septal ablation is a nonsurgical procedure. An interventional cardiologist places a thin tube called a catheter into one of your blood vessels and threads it carefully to the thickened area of your heart. The doctor then injects a small amount of alcohol into the catheter to shrink the thickened tissue. 

  • Septal myomectomy is a type of open-heart surgery. A cardiac surgeon removes part of the thickened section of your septum, the wall that separates your heart’s right and left ventricles. This procedure makes it easier for blood to flow. 

Doctors may consider heart transplantation for some people who have end-stage heart failure. This surgery involves replacing a diseased heart with a healthy donor heart. 

Cardiac implantable electronic devices

Doctors can place a variety of medical devices inside your body to help your heart work better. These devices play a critical role in helping prevent sudden cardiac death, which may occur without warning in HCM patients, including those without symptoms. 

  • Implantable cardioverter-defibrillators monitor your heartbeat. If the device detects a dangerous heart rhythm, it delivers a carefully calibrated electrical shock to your heart to help it beat normally. 

  • A pacemaker may be helpful if your heart beats too slowly. This device uses an electrical impulse to restore a more normal heart rate. 

Why choose The Christ Hospital 

The Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Center at The Christ Hospital provides comprehensive, close-to-home care for adults who have known or suspected HCM. When you receive the right care from experienced experts, HCM is highly manageable. As a result, most people reach their typical life expectancy and beyond.

Our Center offers: 

Team-based expertise 

We offer a team of providers who specialize in HCM. They bring expertise from all areas necessary to provide exceptional HCM care and address any complications that may arise. Specializations include:

  • Diet and nutrition 

  • Electrophysiology (study of the heart’s electrical system) 

  • Exercise physiology

  • Genetics 

  • Heart failure 

  • Heart imaging 

  • Heart surgery 

  • Interventional cardiology (use of catheter-based treatments for HCM)

  • Mental health 

  • Sleep medicine

Team members work together and discuss your case to make sure you receive the care that’s best for you. 

Patient-centered education 

We believe it’s essential that you understand HCM and the risks that may come with it. We’ll review your imaging results with you, explain your condition in detail and discuss current treatment guidelines. We want you to clearly understand how to best care for yourself and how we can help.

Evidence-based care 

We follow treatment and monitoring guidelines established by the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association. Following their guidelines means you receive the gold standard of HCM care. 

We also work with other specialists at The Christ Hospital if you have other conditions such as diabetes or obstructive sleep apnea, which may impact HCM. This collaboration ensures you receive the therapies that we know are best for your unique situation. 

Certain treatments offered at the Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Center are not available everywhere. These include ventricular assist devices, which are part of our comprehensive, advanced heart failure program. 

Novel therapeutics 

We offer the most up-to-date treatments, including recently approved medicines that are not widely available at other hospitals. Doctors require special training to administer and monitor drugs such as mavacamten.

Genetic testing

For patients who have not been tested previously, we provide genetic testing to confirm the presence of HCM mutations. We then offer testing to first-degree relatives (parents, siblings and children) of those who have the mutations. Because HCM may be passed down from one generation to the next, identifying those at risk for the condition is critical — especially when it comes to preventing sudden cardiac death. 

We work with people at risk for HCM to develop ongoing treatment and monitoring programs. This means you and those important to you will receive the most appropriate, highest-level care

Whole-person care 

HCM may affect your mental health as well as your physical health. So, we evaluate you for conditions such as depression. Then, if it’s right for you, we connect you to resources to help ease your path forward. 

Contact us 

To learn more about HCM care at The Christ Hospital and schedule an appointment, please call 513-648-5555. 

We welcome newly diagnosed patients and those seeking second opinions.