Hypertrophic Obstructive Cardiomyopathy (HOCM) Facts

Heart Comparison

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

television Treating A Quiet Killer (Washington University in St. Louis) (2min 49sec)

television Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Overview - Mayo Clinic (8min 58sec)

Football Dude



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.

Smiling GirlWhy Choose Mobile Life Screening
For Your Echocardiogram?

For a printable PDF version of HOCM related  information, click here

More information about Echocardiograms

HOCM Related News Items