How is Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Diagnosed?


It can be challenging to diagnose hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) as many people with the condition do not present symptoms or signs until the disease has progressed. Some individuals with HCM may misinterpret their symptoms as overexertion from exercise or a strenuous chore.

If you are experiencing fatigue, shortness of breath, and other symptoms of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, see your doctor and get care. Your doctor may provide the following diagnostic tools, including:

  • Physical exam & medical history to discuss with your doctor your present health condition, family history of heart disease, and any remarkable symptoms
  • Genetic testing to assess whether your condition is inherited and has a genetic link
  • Heart imaging, which may include the following heart functioning tests:
    • Echocardiogram (ECG or EKG). Uses ultrasound waves to view images of the heart's muscle, determining if it shows signs of thickening. It also allows the doctor to see how the heart's valves and chambers are pumping blood.
    • Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Sometimes referred to as nuclear magnetic resonance imaging (NMR), this is a noninvasive test that uses a magnetic field and powerful radiofrequency waves to generate a detailed heart image.
    • Coronary angiography. Uses X-ray imaging to view the heart's blood vessels. It is primarily used to measure blood flow to the heart.
    • Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG). Indicates the heart's electrical activity, measuring the speed and rhythm of the heartbeat.
    • Electrophysiology (EP) study. Uses catheters to monitor the heart's electrical activity when determining where the arrhythmia (abnormal heartbeat) originates.
    • Stress test. Aims to purposely make your heart work hard to perform tests related to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

How is Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Treated?


Treatment for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy depends on the severity of the condition. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is a genetic condition, and there is currently no cure. However, in April 2022, the FDA approved the medication, Mayacamtem, to treat people with symptoms of obstructive hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

The treatments for people who experience symptoms of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy focus mainly on managing the condition with medication and additional medical procedures. The severity of the condition will determine how the symptoms are managed to prevent the worsening of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

NewYork-Presbyterian is one of the few hospitals in the United States with a designated care center for patients with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. We retain the highest level of skilled surgeons who are experts in the fields of cardiology and cardiac surgery. With state-of-the-art technology, using the latest equipment available, we provide high-quality and advanced heart care. The full range of therapies available at NewYork-Presbyterian includes medication, surgery, pacemakers, and other implantable devices. 

Healthy lifestyle

People who do not exhibit symptoms should maintain a healthy lifestyle to decrease their chances of developing complications. This is especially recommended if a person has additional medical conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure. Adopting a heart-healthy regimen should include:

  • Eating healthy
  • Exercising
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Don’t smoke


Medications to treat hypertrophic cardiomyopathy should be taken as prescribed. These medications are designed to improve symptoms and heart function by increasing blood flow and the heart’s ability to pump blood. Medications are used to lower blood pressure, slow the heart rate, remove excess fluid retained in the body, and prevent blood clots. Medications include:

  • Beta blockers
  • Calcium channel blockers
  • Diuretics
  • Myosin inhibitors

Nonsurgical options

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy can be treated with non-surgical procedures. These include:

  • Alcohol septal ablation – This procedure involves ethanol alcohol being injected through a small tube into the artery that supplies blood to the thickened heart muscle damaged by hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. The alcohol destroys these cells, allowing the heart muscle to shrink to normal size, thus allowing blood to flow through the area. Heart surgery complications and risks increase with age; therefore, alcohol septal ablation is the preferred procedure for older patients.

Surgical options

  • Septal myectomy – This open-heart surgery is an option for people whose severe obstructive hypertrophic cardiomyopathy cannot be controlled with medication. A heart surgeon will remove the thickened portion of the septum that extends into the left ventricle. The elimination of this damaged portion allows blood to flow freely to the heart and the rest of the body. 
  • Cardiac implantable electronic devices (CIEDs) – These devices are surgically implanted in the body to improve heart function:
    • Implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) – This device sends an electric shock to the heart when an irregular heartbeat is detected, reducing the risk of death from sudden cardiac death.
    • Pacemaker – This device is implanted under the skin of the chest or abdomen. It is often used to correct a slow heartbeat. Electrical pulses are used to regulate the heartbeat.
    • Ventricular assist device (VAD) – This procedure is considered when less invasive procedures were not successful. The device helps blood through the heart and is used either short or long term for people waiting for a heart transplant.
  • Heart transplant – This procedure is used for people with end-stage hypertrophic cardiomyopathy; the damaged heart is replaced with a new, healthy donor heart.



Most people with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy have a normal life expectancy with no significant complications or life restraints.

Conversely, few people are at risk for developing heart failure or sudden death. These complications can differ between families and among members of the same family. Keeping in mind that hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is a genetic condition, your doctor should be alerted if this condition exists in your family so preventive care can be provided.



It can be difficult to prevent HCM since many people do not experience symptoms. In situations where people do show signs, the main purpose of treatment is to prevent the condition from escalating. Doctors look to manage symptoms first with medications, followed by diagnostic testing to reduce the risk of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). Managing symptoms can help a person live a more productive life.

Risk factors for developing hypertrophic cardiomyopathy may include:

  • Family history of heart disease or sudden cardiac arrest (SCA).
  • Preexisting heart conditions, such as coronary heart disease, prior heart attack, or a viral infection that inflamed the heart muscles
  • Diabetes
  • Long-term alcoholism
  • Long-term, uncontrolled high blood pressure (hypertension)

Most people with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy show no symptoms and can live close to a normal life expectancy. Effective treatments options coupled with making healthy lifestyle changes, such as eating right and exercising regularly, can attribute to a person enjoying a long life.

Get Care

Trust NewYork-Presbyterian for Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Treatment

NewYork-Presbyterian offers world-class care for cardiac conditions, including hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. If you are experiencing hypertrophic cardiomyopathy symptoms , such as fatigue and shortness of breath, make an appointment with one of the expert cardiologists now. 

Learn more about NewYork-Presbyterian's advanced cardiovascular care services available throughout the New York metropolitan area, including Westchester and Hudson Valley.