Heart disease is one of the most common and serious conditions that a person can come across. There are millions of Americans who will suffer from heart disease, or know someone who will. However, oftentimes people lump every form of heart disease together. The classic “heart attack” is considered to be the problem and everything leading up to it or potentially causing it gets set aside. This is a mistake. Knowing the specifics on what type of heart disease may be affecting a person means that they can get treatment and make lifestyle changes earlier. This means a reduced chance of fatal consequences.
Hypertrophic heart disease is one such heart problem that people face. Specifically it is referred to as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. The heart muscle becomes much thicker than for a normal sized heart. This can make it much harder for the heart to perform its normal function and pump blood freely throughout the body.
Causes of Hypertrophic Heart Disease
Unlike many diseases and conditions, the main cause of a hypertrophic heart disease is well known. Most people who suffer from this condition do so due to a defect in their genetics. These gene mutations cause the muscle to grow to a too large of size. The secondary cause is when there is a large blockage of blood flow within the heart. This means that the left ventricle becomes overly stiff. In turn, the blood that can be pumped is reduced.
Symptoms of Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy
The symptoms associated with this condition are part of why it can be so tricky. Most people have very few symptoms. Not showing symptoms isn’t always bad. Many people can suffer from hypertrophic heart disease and never realize it, while living a perfectly fine life. For others, the symptoms are a sign that something is amiss. Some of the common symptoms that people will see are:
- Shortness of breath - This is especially common for people when they exercise. People who smoke will commonly confuse it for being caused by that.
- Fainting - This also tends to occur during exercise, or specifically right after it. Large exertions can be too much for the body, because blood isn’t flowing sufficiently.
- Heart Palpitations - These are sudden rapid and fluttering heartbeats. These heartbeats can either be quick and rapid or be pounding and painful.
- Heart Murmurs - These can be detected by a doctor. These are irregular sounds in the normal beating of a heart.
- Chest Pains - These are one of the more common symptoms when dealing with hypertrophic heart disease. Like many of the symptoms, chest pains are common during exercise as the body is trying to pump as much blood as possible.
The complications are arguably the scariest thing when a person’s heart thickens. It can lead to some more serious and dangerous issues. People will often deal with the obstructed blood flow that leads to the symptoms listed earlier. The heart muscle can also become weak in addition to being thick over time. The heart pumping becomes even weaker from this.
Many people suffer from irregular heartbeats (atrial fibrillation), which in turn increases the chance of blood clots. Valve problems can also become commonplace, as the valves don’t close properly due to the increased force placed upon the valves.
The most dangerous complications for people with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy can be fatal. While it’s rare, sudden cardiac death can happen in people under 30 about 1% of the time. In addition, heart failure is possible with the heart simply unable to perform as needed.