To date, risk assessment in patients with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) has largely focused on whether there is a need for an implantable defibrillator by evaluating an individual patient’s short term risk of sudden death, but has not looked at the long term risks of heart failure and other adverse outcomes over time.
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.
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.
A recent study published in The New England Journal of Medicine concluded that individuals of African descent found to carry genes previously identified with HCM did not, in fact, have the disease. Thus, the article highlighted the importance of including diverse populations when sequencing genomes for genetic diseases so as to avoid false diagnoses.
In connection with the findings, National Public Radio interviewed three people, including Dr. Isaac Kohane, one of the researchers who published the findings of the lack of diversity in the HCM genetic panel, as well as New York City HCM patient Tarika Mingo. Finally, NPR spoke to veteran HCM expert Dr. Barry Maron, who noted a potential concern that athletes may have been erroneously disqualified from sports participation solely on the basis of false positive genetic testing results.