Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared on the blog of Dr. Howard J. Luks. Dr. Luks wrote this blog entry in collaboration with HCM expert Dr. Srihari S. Naidu of New York’s Westchester Medical Center. You can find the original post here. You can find both Dr. Luks and Dr. Naidu on Twitter @hjluks and @SrihariNaiduMD.
Sudden cardiac death in young athletes continues with alarming frequency. The most common cause of sudden death in the young athlete is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy or HCM. Simply put, HCM means the heart muscle is bigger. Many of us believe that bigger muscle means stronger muscle. That is not always the case with the heart. The heart is a mechanical pump with a complex arrangement of chambers which store the blood. How that pump works is controlled by a very complex electrical system. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy can interfere with one or both of these critical functions of the heart and lead to sudden cardiac death.
Continue reading “Sudden Cardiac Death in Young Athletes”
HCM is the most frequent cause of death in male athletes according to a soon to be published study analyzing competitive athlete causes of death between 1980 and 2011.
More than 1/3 of deaths were due to HCM, which was almost four times more common in males than females. Deaths in minorities were almost 5 times greater than in whites.
The complete study will be published in October in The American Journal of Medicine.
According to a recent study by doctors in Australia and New Zealand, unexplained sudden cardiac deaths in children and adolescents can often be explained through the use of genetic testing.
HCM experts in the U.K. have found that extreme left ventricular wall thickness does not automatically correlate with an increased risk of sudden death. Thus, results from a recent study published in the American Heart Association’s Circulation: Arrhythmia and Electrophysiology, suggest that extreme hypertrophy NOT be the sole factor justifying the implantation of an implantable defibrillator.