Living with Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy
- Jared Butler, 22, was 18 when he was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which is a heart condition passed on genetically. Butler is an NBA rookie who plays guard with the Utah Jazz.
- Butler is now teaming up with Bristol-Myers Squibb and the ‘Could It Be HCM?’ Campaign to spread awareness about the disease.
- Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or HCM, is a disease where the heart muscle becomes abnormally thickened which can make it more difficult for this organ to pump blood. This, in turn, can lead to various complications and, in a small number of cases, life-threatening abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias) or even sudden death.
The 6’3″ rookie guard now plays for the Utah Jazz NBA team. He led Baylor University to the 2021 NCAA men’s basketball championship.Read More
Understanding Hypertrophic CardiomyopathyHypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or HCM, is a disease where the heart muscle becomes abnormally thickened which can make it more difficult for this organ to pump blood. This, in turn, can lead to various complications and, in a small number of cases, life-threatening abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias) or even sudden death.
A doctor may suspect you have HCM if you come to them with the following symptoms:
- Chest pain, especially during exercise
- Fainting, especially during or immediately after exercise
- Heart murmur (an extra noise heard during heartbeat)
- Sensation of rapid blood, fluttering or pounding heart beats
- Shortness of breath, especially during exercise
Additionally, your doctor might think you have HCM if a close family member has the disease, but it’s important to note that not all people with HCM have a documented family history or even display symptoms.
“There could be no symptoms, and, if there are symptoms, typically they will start off as shortness of breath, or … shortness of breath on exertion,” Dr. Philip Weintraub, a cardiology specialist based in New York, told SurvivorNet. “The development can progress to where there will be chest pains. There could be chronic fatigue. There could be elements of feeling faint [or] passing out.
“So, the spectrum is rather great, and it is associated with the severity of the cardiomyopathy itself. Symptoms, when they occur, generally lead to a dialogue between patient and physician and the physician must keep all options open as to what might be going on.”
Treatment for people with HCM can vary from case to case depending upon factors like your overall health and the severity of the disease. But even people who do not need immediate treatment should consider making changes that will allow them to better take care of themselves.
“HCM must be looked at as a lifestyle changer,” Dr. Weintraub said.
He recommends people with HCM avoid any illicit drugs and cut back on alcohol.
“You don’t want to invite other agents that might be toxic to the heart muscle,” he said. “You do not want to use illicit drugs, especially cocaine. You don’t want to use alcohol because alcohol itself could act as a depressant.”
Otherwise, he recommends HCM patients adopt the following healthy habits.
- Moderate exercise
- Maintaining weight
- Getting on a healthy sleep schedule
- Discussing/managing stress
- Avoiding substances that put strain on the heart
- Minimizing your salt intake
Additionally, Dr. Weintraub wants people with HCM to prioritize finding a strong support system as they navigate life with the disease.
“You need to live in an environment where you can share what’s going on with you because we see many patients who are afraid of what’s wrong with them, withdraw, isolate and develop certain types of depressions,” he explained.
Contributor: Abigail Seaberg