Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy: Care Instructions

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The heart

Your Care Instructions

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (say "hy-per-TROH-fik kar-dee-oh-my-AWP-uh-thee") is a disease in which the heart muscle grows too thick. Many people have no symptoms and live a normal life with few problems. But some people can have problems. The thickened heart muscle can make it hard for the heart to pump blood well. This can cause shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, fainting, and fatigue. It also can affect the heart's electrical system. For some people, this can increase the risk for life-threatening abnormal heartbeats. Based on your risk, a device called an ICD (implantable cardioverter-defibrillator) may be an option. This device can stop these abnormal heartbeats.

Good care at home can help you cope with symptoms and get the best results. It is very important that you follow up with your doctor.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if you think you are having a problem with your medicine. You will get more details on the specific medicines your doctor prescribes.
  • Do not smoke. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor about stop-smoking programs and medicines.
  • Eat heart-healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, and lean meats. Limit sodium, sugars, and alcohol.
  • Drink plenty of fluids (unless your doctor has told you to limit fluids).
  • Be active. Ask your doctor what level and types of exercise are safe for you. You may need to avoid strenuous activity.
  • Stay at a healthy weight. Lose weight if you need to.
  • Get vaccinated against COVID-19, the flu, and pneumonia.
  • Tell your family members that you have hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. They may want to talk with a doctor about getting tested for this condition. Testing can identify it before it causes symptoms.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You have symptoms of a heart attack. These may include:
    • Chest pain or pressure, or a strange feeling in the chest.
    • Sweating.
    • Shortness of breath.
    • Nausea or vomiting.
    • Pain, pressure, or a strange feeling in the back, neck, jaw, or upper belly or in one or both shoulders or arms.
    • Lightheadedness or sudden weakness.
    After you call 911, the operator may tell you to chew 1 adult-strength or 2 to 4 low-dose aspirin. Wait for an ambulance. Do not try to drive yourself.
  • You have severe trouble breathing.
  • You cough up pink, foamy mucus and you have trouble breathing.
  • You passed out (lost consciousness).

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have new or increased shortness of breath.
  • You are dizzy or lightheaded, or you feel like you may faint.
  • You have sudden weight gain, such as more than 2 to 3 pounds in a day or 5 pounds in a week. (Your doctor may suggest a different range of weight gain.)
  • You have increased swelling in your legs, ankles, or feet.
  • You have an ICD and you have signs of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the cut (incision).
    • Pus draining from the incision.
    • A fever.
  • You have a sudden episode of a skipping heartbeat or a very fast heartbeat.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if you have any problems.

Where can you learn more?

Go to http://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

Enter Q219 in the search box to learn more about "Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy: Care Instructions".

The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.