Frequently Asked Questions
- I have just been told I have Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM). What should I do next?
- What are the symptoms?
- What can I do at home in addition to my doctors treatments?
- What about my family and relatives?
- What activities should I avoid?
- Will my insurance cover my diagnostic testing and treatments?
I have just been told I have Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy. What should I do next?
Don't panic! HCM in many cases is successfully treated with medications with patients enjoying a normal life span and requiring only minimal lifestyle changes. You should make an appointment to speak with a cardiologist who has expertise in treating HCM and can monitor you frequently. Maintain close contact with your physician and report changes in your symptoms promptly. You should avoid strenuous activities and any activity which causes you symptoms. Since this is a genetic disorder, start to inform other family members of your diagnosis. Your children and siblings should all be screened by a physician.
What are the symptoms?
Some patients remain asymptomatic throughout life. The symptoms may include shortness of breath, chest pain or pressure, palpitations, dizziness or passing out spells. Symptoms usually develop very gradually. You may have all of these symptoms or only some of them. Your symptoms may vary from day to day depending on your activities and other environmental factors. Although rare, the most devastating outcome of this disease is sudden cardiac death. There are predictors or risk markers of sudden death that can be identified in patients so that preventive measures can be taken.
What can I do at home in addition to my doctors treatments?
Most importantly avoid activities which precipitate any symptoms. Stay well hydrated and avoid spending extended periods of time in the heat. Monitor your blood pressure and heart rate with a home monitor and keep a log of those readings for your cardiologist. Consider getting a medic alert bracelet. Emergency personnel can mistreat HCM if they are not properly informed of this condition.
Be sure to inform all care providers of your condition. Any invasive procedure or treatment including dentistry should ALWAYS be premedicated with antibiotics.
What about my family and relatives?
This disease is a genetic disorder. It may have started with you, but more likely was passed to you by one of your parents. You should inform all immediate relatives of your diagnosis. This includes children, brothers and sisters, and aunts and uncles. Discuss with your cardiologist who in your family should be screened. Young children need to be closely followed for many years since the disease may not become evident until later years.
What activities should I avoid?
Patients with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy should avoid strenuous exertion. Activities that are called isometric exercises should be avoided. These include lifting heavy weights, pull-ups, push-ups or other exercises that cause you to strain. Light exercise such as walking or light, repetitive weights may be all right in some patients depending on your exact condition and treatments.
Will my insurance cover my diagnostic testing and treatments?
Most private insurances and Medicare/Medicaid cover the testing and treatments that we offer at the Methodist DeBakey Cardiology Associates. If your insurance required precertification, that will be done by our office staff prior to your appointment with us.