How is Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Treated?

Medical Therapy for HCM

Medical management

The HCM Center offers advanced medical imaging to refine the patient's diagnosis, including the following services:

  • Advanced cardiac imaging, including 3D-echocardiography and MRI
  • Echocardiography
  • Cardiopulmonary Exercise Laboratory
  • Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory Arrhythmia Management and Electrophysiology Services
  • Cardiac Surgery
  • Interventional Cardiology Program
  • Heart Failure Program
  • Heart Transplant Program
  • Pulmonary Hypertension Center
  • Adult Congenital Heart Program
  • Preventive Cardiology Program

An important component of medical management is genetic testing—both for the patient, and first-degree relatives. While HCM cannot be treated with gene therapy, genetic tests can help us identify those family members who may carry a gene that causes HCM.

Read more about genetic testing.

Afterward we can counsel the entire family about preventive measures including what kind of activities to avoid because they stress the heart.

Using risk stratification, we can also advise patients who are likely to benefit from a pacemaker of implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD).

Read more about pacemakers and ICDs.

Finally, medical management involves lifestyle counseling, to inform the patient what activities are dangerous for this condition, and to emphasize the behavior and activities that support heart health.

Read more about lifestyle guidelines

Interventional Procedures and Medical Management

Our physicians are among the most experienced in the world in septal ablation, a minimally invasive technique that's done in a catheterization lab.

In this procedure, an interventional cardiologist injects a small amount of alcohol into the septal artery, destroying a small portion of heart muscle that's responsible for the obstruction. This results in improved blood flow.

Learn more about this procedure.

This option is generally recommended for those too ill to undergo open-surgery. Between 5 and 10% of patients who undergo ablation subsequently require pacemakers.

Pacemakers and Defibrillators for HCM

An implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) is indicated if a patient has two of the following risk factors

  • A family history of sudden cardiac death
  • A history of fainting or losing consciousness
  • A heart wall that's more then 3 cm thick (1 cm is normal)
  • A non-sustained ventricular tachycardia (NSVT) appearing on a heart monitor (EP Service)
  • A decline in blood pressure during exercise

These devices are very sturdy and effective.

They can be used as a preventive measure in patients who are at risk for sudden cardiac death or to control life-threatening arrhythmias.

It generally takes between one and two hours to prep the patient and perform the implant. The individual is usually discharge the following day.

A subset of patients who have a procedure called septal ablation may require a pacemaker, for the surgeon is working in an area that contains the biological wiring of the heart.

Surgical Procedures and Medical Management

Septal myectomy, a surgery that excises damaged muscle tissues from the ventricular wall, has long been considered the gold standard to relieve obstruction in the hypertrophic heart.

In recent years, our surgeons have learned more about the anatomy of the hypertrophic heart, enabling them to excise enough of the heart muscle to relieve obstruction while minimizing adverse consequences.

Data also suggests that myectomy is associated with a greater relief of symptoms, greater reduction in the gradient (the difference in pressure between the left ventricle and the aorta), and may have provide more durable results than septal ablation.

Higher survival rates are reported in centers that perform the highest volume of these surgeries. Dr. Hiroo Takayama is one of the most experienced surgeons performing septal myectomy today.

Learn more about this procedure

Dr. Hiroo Takayama – What should I ask my doctor about hypertrophic cardiomyopathy treatment?