Hypertrophic Obstructive Cardiomyopathy (HOCM) Facts
What Is HOCM??
Each year, young athletes around the country die suddenly, during practice or games, for no apparent reason. You have probably heard about these stories on TV or in the news, maybe even in your own neighborhood. The cause of death in these individuals is almost always due to an enlarged heart, otherwise known as Hypertrophic Obstructive Cardiomyopathy (HOCM).
Hypertrophic Obstructive Cardiomyopathy (HOCM) is a disease in which the heart muscle (myocardium) becomes abnormally thick. This thickened heart muscle can make it harder for the heart to pump blood. Hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy may also affect the heart's electrical system resulting in life-threatening abnormal heart rhythyms (arrhythmias).
It's a genetic disorder that can cause sudden death in otherwise healthy young people. Unfortunately, HOCM is very difficult to pick up in routine physical exams, such as those done for athletics. Hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy often goes undiagnosed because many of those with the disease do not have symptoms. Known as the “silent killer,” the symptoms of HOCM generally occur during exertion. Many times, the first symptom is often sudden death due to severe arrhythmias or fatal heart rhythms. This is why early detection of HOCM is so critical.
Signs & Symptoms
- Chest pain or pressure that usually occurs with exercise or physical activity, but also may occur with rest or after meals.
- Shortness of breath and fatigue, especially with exertion. These symptoms are more common in adults with HOCM and are most likely caused by a backup of pressure in the left atrium and lungs.
- Syncope (fainting or passing out) may affect HOCM patients. Syncope with HOCM may be caused by irregular heart rhythms, abnormal responses of the blood vessels during exercise, or no cause may be found.
- Palpitations (fluttering in the chest) due to abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias) such as atrial fibrillation or ventricular tachycardia. Atrial fibrillation occurs in about 25 percent of those with HOCM, and increases the risk for blood clots and heart failure.
Treating A Quiet Killer (Washington University in St. Louis) (2min 49sec)
Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Overview - Mayo Clinic (8min 58sec)
- Young athletes are at particular high risk of dying from HOCM.
- HOCM is linked to exertion from sports.
- HOCM is difficult to detect from normal testing.
- Symptoms vary and often go undetected.
- HCM is the most common cause of sudden cardiac death in people under age 30
- HOCM is genetically passed down within families.
- HOCM may be acquired as a result of high blood pressure or aging.
- HOCM affects 1 in 500 people in the U.S & Canada
What Can You Do to Protect Yourself?
An enlarged heart (or HOCM) can be accurately detected by way of a simple ultrasound procedure known as an Echocardiogram. Mobile Life Screening is launching a new mobile screening service geared towards detecting the presence of HOCM in young athletes. A highly trained and ARDMS (Advanced Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonographers) registered cardiac sonographer utilizes state-of-the-art color flow/doppler ultrasound equipment to perform an Echocardiogram on the athlete. Your echocardiogram is then interpreted by a Board Certified Cardiologist and a completed report is mailed to you. Best of all, our portability allows us bring our equipment to any school, building, or even your own home!
What Is An Echocardiogram?
An echocardiogram is a non-invasive test using sound waves, or “ultrasound,” to produce a visual image of the heart. The test reveals any structural problems in the heart and shows how efficiently the heart and valves are working, evaluates the size of the heart walls and chambers, and calculates how efficiently the heart is pumping blood.
The procedure is painless, highly accurate, and generally completed within 30 minutes. Sticky patches or electrodes are attached to your chest and shoulders. These help to record the EKG during the test. A small amount of gel is applied to the chest and a small transducer takes images of the heart from different angles.
Why Choose Mobile Life Screening
For Your Echocardiogram?
- We use state-of-the-art color flow/doppler ultrasound equipment.
- The procedure is painless, non-invasive, accurate, and generally completed within 30 minutes.
- Our echocardiograms are interpreted by Board Certified Cardiologists.
- All echocardiograms are performed by cardiac sonographers registered with the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS).
- Our echocardiograms cost just a fraction of the price you would pay at a local hospital or clinic and are affordable to everyone.
For a printable PDF version of HOCM related information, click here
More information about Echocardiograms
HOCM Related News Items
- 17 year old Zac Herold forced to retire before first pro match read story »
- 16 year old basketball player Wes Leonard dies on basketball court read story »
- 22 year old Minnesota Gopher senior linebacker Gary Tinsley dies of enlarged heart read story »
- 19 year old Russian hockey player Alexei Cherepanov collapses and dies during hockey game read story »
- 21 year old Southern Indiana basketball player Jeron Lewis dies during game read story »
- 17 year old Oregon wrestler Charley Engelfried collapses & dies during match read story »
- Gaines Adams, Chicago Bears defensive end, dies at 26 read story »
- Mobley forced to retire read story »
- A congenital cardiovascular abnormality has become a leading killer of young athletes in the U.S. So why isn't more being done to save those who have it? read story »
- 31 year old NHL hockey player Sergei Zholtok dies of heart failure read story »
- 24 year old Hungarian soccer player Miklos Feher collapses and dies during a match read story »
- Loyola Marymount basketball player Hank Gathers dies at age 23 during basketball game read story »
- 28 year old elite distance runner Ryan Shay dies at the Olympic trials read story »
- Former Toronto Blue Jay’s pitcher Joe Kennedy dies from a heart condition read story »
- Atlanta Hawks center Jason Collier dead at the age of 28 due to heart condition read story »
- Marc-Vivien Foe collapses and dies during soccer match at 28 years old read story »
- Alarming number of seemingly healthy soccer players stricken with heart problems read story »
- 16 year old soccer player collapses and dies during a training session with Walsall FC read story »
- 22 year old Antonio Puerta collapses during a soccer match read story »
- Glen Oaks' star Veal collapses, dies during game. read story »
- Windsor Spitfires captain Mickey Renaud dead at 19. read story »
- Elite distance runner Ryan Shay, who collapsed and died Saturday during the U.S. men's marathon Olympic trials, had been diagnosed with an enlarged heart but cleared by doctors, his father said. read story »
- Pittsburgh Penguins owner/captain Mario Lemieux hospitalized for irregular heartbeat 11/14/2005. read story »
- During a November 21, 2005 hockey game, Detroit Red Wings defenceman Jiri Fischer collapsed, went into convulsions followed by cardiac arrest. His heart was restarted by CPR and an auto defibrillator. Fisher passed all previous health screening tests but was told that his heart was slightly enlarged. read story »
- The death of 28-year-old Atlanta Hawks center Jason Collier was confirmed on autopsy to be due to a sudden heart rhythm disturbance caused by an abnormally enlarged heart. read story »