Lifestyle Influences HCM

According to this recent article published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, lifestyle choices can influence the development and/or progression of HCM.

In particular, the authors made the following recommendations:

  •  Exercise:  Recreational exercise should be encouraged in HCM patients.
    • This recommendation was largely based on the findings of the recent RESET-HCM study which found that moderate exercise, specifically tailored to each individual patient’s capacity, was beneficial to the patient’s general health and well being.  **For an in-depth look at the RESET-HCM study, check out this recent HCMBeat interview with the authors of the study, Drs. Sara Saberi and Sharlene Day.
  • Eating and Drinking: 
    • Patients should avoid large meals and should not exercise immediately after eating.  
    • Care should be taken to avoid becoming dehydrated.
    • Alcohol should only be consumed in moderation.
  • Healthy weight should be maintained.
  • Hypertension should be treated aggressively, though treatment may be challenging, especially in obstructive HCM.
  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea, which may exist in as many as 70% of HCM patients, should be treated to minimize potential for arrhythmia and to improve blood flow.

Exercise Testing Important for HCM Patients

According to a recent study by doctors at Tufts HCM Center in collaboration with colleagues in Italy, exercise testing is an invaluable tool in the assessment of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy patients.

In particular, two types of exercise testing are most valuable for HCM patients:

  • Exercise Echocardiogram:  These tests are valuable in determining whether a patient has obstruction.  It provides a physiological way to measure whether or not a patient has an obstructed left ventricular outflow tract and hence, may potentially be in need of an invasive procedure to treat the obstruction.  According to the article, approximately 1/3 of HCM patients have latent obstruction which may only be seen during or after exercise.  This obstruction is not always apparent from their resting echocardiogram.

and

  • Cardiopulmonary Exercise Testing:  These tests help determine functional capacity and provide a quantifiable indicator of heart failure symptoms.  This test  can identify patients in need of more aggressive treatment options, or who are potentially in need of transplant.  A particularly valuable piece of data from this test is the “VO2 max” score, which is a measure of the maximum rate of oxygen consumption during exercise which reflects the cardiorespiratory fitness level of a person.

*Editor’s note – Exercise testing was particularly informative and important in my own HCM treatment.  It was only after my doctors performed an exercise echo that the extent of my obstruction became apparent.  The symptoms I had been suffering appeared to be out of proportion to what was visualized on my resting echo.  The exercise echo helped my doctors understand the cause of my symptoms which made the next step, in my case a myectomy, much clearer.

You can read my full story here .

 

 

RESET-HCM: Rethinking Exercise for HCM Patients – Interview with Dr. Sara Saberi and Dr. Sharlene Day

Editor’s note: This is our first interview feature on HCMBeat.  In the future, we hope to feature more interviews with other HCM researchers who have published articles of interest to the HCM community.  

By now, you have probably already heard the buzz about RESET- HCM – a study about the effects of exercise on HCM patients conducted by Dr. Sara Saberi and Dr. Sharlene Day at the Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Clinic of the University of Michigan’s Frankel Cardiovascular Center in collaboration with Dr. Matthew Wheeler and Dr. Euan Ashley of Stanford’s HCM Center. The findings were presented at the American College of Cardiology Conference on March 17, 2017 held in Washington D.C. and were the subject of this feature on HCMBeat. 

Recently, Cynthia Waldman of HCMBeat had the opportunity to sit down with Drs. Saberi and Day for a detailed conversation (over Skype) about the study.  What follows is a transcript of their conversation (which has been edited for readability).

Continue reading “RESET-HCM: Rethinking Exercise for HCM Patients – Interview with Dr. Sara Saberi and Dr. Sharlene Day”

One Size Does NOT Fit All: Treatments Differ by Stage in HCM

There are distinct stages of HCM and treatments will vary according to the stage. Therefore, it is important, according to a recent article in the Netherlands Heart Journal, for patients to seek treatment from teams experienced in the the treatment of HCM.  These professionals are able to recognize transitions in the course of the disease as they occur, and then implement necessary changes in treatment.

In this thorough overview of HCM and its treatment, Dr. Iacopo Olivotto and his colleagues in the Netherlands observe that HCM is seen infrequently by community cardiologists (as compared to more common heart conditions like coronary artery disease). Hence, one of the major difficulties in HCM practice has been identification of patients at highest risk.

Continue reading “One Size Does NOT Fit All: Treatments Differ by Stage in HCM”

Yes We Scan! ICDs and MRIs

Why MRI is Important:

Magnetic Resonance Imaging, or MRI, is one of the most important tools of modern medicine.  MRIs can be used to evaluate almost every kind of medical issue, from brain tumors to twisted ankles.  They provide clear images, and in some instances, also provide superior visualization.  Because they do not expose the imaging subject to radiation, they are generally preferred over CT scans, even when the two scans would reveal the same information.

MRI in HCM:

In the last several years, MRI has also become an important tool in the evaluation of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM).  The images resulting from MRI have proven superior in visualizing the size and structure of the heart and, when used with a contrast agent, MRIs are able to show the extent of scarring in the HCM heart.

MRI Hasn’t Been an Option for Many of Us:

MRI has been unavailable to those of us who have an implantable defibrillator or ICD to in order to protect us from sudden cardiac arrest.  Until recently, having an ICD was an absolute contraindication to MRI.  Newer MRI-safe ICD systems have been in use for the last few years, but that still leaves in place the contraindication for those of us who have older ICD units in place.  That problem is that older lead systems that were implanted along with old, non-MR compatible generators may be incompatible with the newer MR compatible technology, and it may not be possible to simply hook up these old leads to a new MRI compatible generator.  And, it is not as easy as you might think to extract old leads.  Scar tissue grows around these leads, making their removal an intricate and dangerous procedure that is best done only in carefully controlled circumstances by highly specialized physicians. Continue reading “Yes We Scan! ICDs and MRIs”

What Are the First Signs of HCM?

 

A study published today by Dr. Carolyn Ho, of Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and colleagues, including Australia’s Christopher Semsarian, found that there are several factors which appear to stand out in young people who later go on to develop HCM.

The children/adolescents/young adults who participated in the study all carried at least one gene associated with HCM, and were members of families with strong histories of HCM. None of the 38 young people had clinical manifestations of HCM at the beginning of the study period, while 4 went on to develop HCM by the end of the study.  In collecting the data analyzed in the study, the test results of the 4 individuals with HCM were compared to the 34 individuals that did not have HCM at the end of the study.

The factors associated with the development of overt HCM, as identified by the researchers, were: abnormal left ventricular relaxation and higher ejection fraction, EKG changes, longer mitral valve leaflets, higher NT-proBNP concentrations and troponin values.

In the conclusion, the authors acknowledged the need for further research and investigation in order to better understand the natural course and evolution of the disease.

Guest Blogger – Surgical Myectomy: A Twice in a Lifetime Experience – By Jill Celeste

I have had the joy of being a Registered Nurse for over 40 years. I was born wanting to be a nurse and started bandaging teddy bears at the age of three. By the age of 5, I was creating “medicines” by spinning blades of grass mixed with clover flowers in the front wheel well of an upside down tricycle.

As I got older, I moved on to be a Candy Striper and a Nurse’s Aide, and then I went on to get my degree as a RN, a BSN, and MSN and became a teacher, administrator, and researcher. All of this cannot REALLY prepare you for; “Being on the other side of the bed” which is what happens when a health care professional who is used to caring for patients becomes a patient themselves. Continue reading “Guest Blogger – Surgical Myectomy: A Twice in a Lifetime Experience – By Jill Celeste”