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Clinical Cardiology
March 13, 2002

Hypertrophic CardiomyopathyA Systematic Review

JAMA. 2002;287(10):1308-1320. doi:10.1001/jama.287.10.1308
Abstract

Context Throughout the past 40 years, a vast and sometimes contradictory literature has accumulated regarding hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), a genetic cardiac disease caused by a variety of mutations in genes encoding sarcomeric proteins and characterized by a broad and expanding clinical spectrum.

Objectives To clarify and summarize the relevant clinical issues and to profile rapidly evolving concepts regarding HCM.

Data Sources Systematic analysis of the relevant HCM literature, accessed through MEDLINE (1966-2000), bibliographies, and interactions with investigators.

Study Selection and Data Extraction Diverse information was assimilated into a rigorous and objective contemporary description of HCM, affording greatest weight to prospective, controlled, and evidence-based studies.

Data Synthesis Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is a relatively common genetic cardiac disease (1:500 in the general population) that is heterogeneous with respect to disease-causing mutations, presentation, prognosis, and treatment strategies. Visibility attached to HCM relates largely to its recognition as the most common cause of sudden death in the young (including competitive athletes). Clinical diagnosis is by 2-dimensional echocardiographic identification of otherwise unexplained left ventricular wall thickening in the presence of a nondilated cavity. Overall, HCM confers an annual mortality rate of about 1% and in most patients is compatible with little or no disability and normal life expectancy. Subsets with higher mortality or morbidity are linked to the complications of sudden death, progressive heart failure, and atrial fibrillation with embolic stroke. Treatment strategies depend on appropriate patient selection, including drug treatment for exertional dyspnea (β-blockers, verapamil, disopyramide) and the septal myotomy-myectomy operation, which is the standard of care for severe refractory symptoms associated with marked outflow obstruction; alcohol septal ablation and pacing are alternatives to surgery for selected patients. High-risk patients may be treated effectively for sudden death prevention with the implantable cardioverter-defibrillator.

Conclusions Substantial understanding has evolved regarding the epidemiology and clinical course of HCM, as well as novel treatment strategies that may alter its natural history. An appreciation that HCM, although an important cause of death and disability at all ages, does not invariably convey ominous prognosis and is compatible with normal longevity should dictate a large measure of reassurance for many patients.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is a complex and relatively common genetic cardiac disease that has been the subject of intense scrutiny and investigation for more than 40 years.1-10 Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is an important cause of disability and death in patients of all ages, although sudden and unexpected death in young people is perhaps the most devastating component of its natural history. Because of marked heterogeneity in clinical expression, natural history, and prognosis,11-20 HCM often represents a dilemma to primary care clinicians and cardiovascular specialists, even to those for whom this disease is a focus of their investigative careers. Controversy abounds with regard to diagnostic criteria, clinical course, and management for which difficult questions often arise, particularly among practitioners infrequently engaged in the evaluation of HCM patients. Consequently, it is timely to place in perspective and clarify many of these relevant clinical issues and profile the rapidly evolving concepts regarding HCM.

Methods
Results
Clinical Cardiology Section Editor: Michael S. Lauer, MD, Contributing Editor.
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