ANCHOR LEAD: HCM IS THE ACRONYM FOR THE LEADING CAUSE OF SUDDEN DEATH IN YOUNGER PEOPLE, ELIZABETH TRACEY REPORTS.
When it happens, we’re all in shock. A young athlete, in great shape and presumably at the height of training and performance, dies suddenly, often while competing. Ted Abraham, a cardiologist at Johns Hopkins, says the most likely cause is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or HCM, and that a simple test could have detected the problem.
ABRAHAM: The primary finding is on echocardiography or ultrasound of the heart and we’re looking for thickening of the heart muscle, and if there is thickening that gives you a clue as to whether this person needs additional evaluation, including maybe a genetic evaluation, more echocardiography, or stress testing to see if they do have the morphologic features that are consistent with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy or HCM. :24
Abraham says the advice to people with the condition is to stop vigorous exercise, which simply puts too much strain on the heart. Other interventions may also be recommended by a cardiologist familiar with HCM. I’m Elizabeth Tracey reporting.