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Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM)

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or HCM, is an inherited heart condition characterized by abnormal thickening of the heart muscle, most often in the left ventricle, which is the main pumping chamber of the heart. The thickening can increase in severity over time, eventually obstructing outflow of blood from the left ventricle to the body.

HCM is a genetic condition resulting from an abnormality (mutation) in one of over a dozen genes that help the body produce and regulate proteins involved in heart muscle cells. In most cases, patients have inherited the condition from one of their parents.

HCM Symptoms

Symptoms May Include:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Stroke
  • Heart palpitations
  • Dizziness or fainting (syncope)
  • Sudden cardiac death may occur even without prior symptoms

Early evaluation and treatment are essential. Although there is no definitive cure for HCM, most people are able to live long, healthy lives with appropriate medical and/or surgical management.

Diagnosing HCM

HCM is Usually Diagnosed with the Following Studies:

Non-invasive map of the electrical activity of your heart
Non-invasive ultrasound image of your heart
Cardiac MRI study
Non-invasive imaging technique involving a scanner that uses magnetic fields and radio waves

Additional Information about Symptoms and Risk of Sudden Cardiac Death is Gathered from:

  • Ambulatory electrocardiographic (ECG) monitoring
  • Implantable loop recorders
  • Exercise stress echocardiograms

Genetic testing from blood or saliva samples may determine the specific genetic mutation causing HCM in your family. These results could also identify other family members that may be at risk of developing HCM and may prevent future children from inheriting the mutation through preimplantation genetic diagnosis.

Treating HCM

Treatment Options Include:

However, many patients may need little or no active treatments, except for regular monitoring by HCM specialists.

Coordinated, State-of-the-Art Care Serving Iowa, the Midwest, and Beyond

HCMA sealUniversity of Iowa HCM program received the prestigious Center of Excellence designation by the Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Association (HCMA). Our services include clinical evaluation, genetic testing, and management recommendations for patients and their families. Our care team provides both inpatient and outpatient consultative services. Other members of the team include a nurse manager, an advanced registered nurse practitioner, and genetic counselors. Care coordination with pediatric cardiology is also provided.

When you come to University of Iowa Heart and Vascular Center for HCM services, you receive advanced care and coordinated services all at one location, usually on the same day.

Starting with the initial visit, you will meet with members of the HCM team for consultative, one-on-one services to develop your personalized treatment plan.

Preparing for a Visit

Send all of your medical records prior to your scheduled appointment or bring paper copies of records and optical discs of any heart imaging tests that have been done. 

Speak with your relatives and write down any history of heart problems or sudden death in your family. 

Please bring contact information for all your healthcare providers, so that we may communicate our findings and recommendations to them.

Traveling to University of Iowa

Since HCM often runs in families, we will make every effort to coordinate appointments with parents, siblings, and children.

If you are traveling, we will work with you to schedule your appointments at times that are convenient for you.  Please visit our Patient & Visitor Guide for directions, parking, lodging, and campus maps.


Our specialists have participated in clinical research that has resulted in the currently approved therapies. We continue to participate in clinical studies to determine how to combine current medications with new treatment options. You may be eligible to participate in a trial of new therapies. Learn more about clinical trials.

Additional Information About our Research:

Care Team

Nurse Manager, Internal Medicine

  • Becky Gutmann, RN, BSN