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Your care team may suspect you have hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) if:

  • Your parent, sibling or child has it
  • You have certain symptoms
  • Your clinician hears a heart murmur when listening to your heart

Imaging and other tests can show signs that the heart muscle is unusually thick. These tests, in particular an echocardiogram, are used to confirm a diagnosis.

These tests are usually ordered because of family history of the disease or to rule out other diseases, including valve problems.  

Common tests include:

  • Echocardiogram: This test uses sound waves (ultrasound) to look at the structure of your heart. It can show if your heart muscle is too thick. It also shows how well the chambers and valves in your heart are pumping.
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG): This test uses sensors placed on your chest and sometimes legs to record the electrical activity of the heart. It can detect irregular heartbeats and signs your heart muscle is enlarged. You may be given a Holter or wireless monitor to wear for a day or more to measure electrical signals from your heart over a longer time.
  • Exercise or stress testing: This test allows your doctor to see how your heart performs during activity (usually on a treadmill or exercise bike). Your doctor will watch your blood pressure, heart rate, how your heart beats and any symptoms you feel.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the heart: This test can detect a thickening of the left ventricular wall. It may help identify areas not seen in an echocardiogram.

In some cases, genetic testing may also be used to find out if you, your children, siblings or parents carry the gene mutation that causes HCM.