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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is a disease of your heart muscle cells. As the cells enlarge, they cause the walls of your ventricles to become thick and stiff. The ventricles are the 2 lower chambers of your heart. They pump blood to your lungs and the rest of your body. When the ventricles are thick or stiff, your heart cannot fill with enough blood. This decreases the blood and oxygen supply to the rest of your body. HCM is usually inherited. HCM may also develop over time. High blood pressure, thyroid disease, and diabetes may cause HCM to develop.
Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:
- You have chest pain that may be worse when you take a deep breath or cough. You may cough up blood.
- You have a sudden cold sweat, especially with chest discomfort or trouble breathing.
- You feel very lightheaded or dizzy, especially with chest discomfort or trouble breathing.
- You have pain or discomfort in your back, neck, jaw, abdomen, or one or both of your arms.
- You have a severe headache or vision loss.
- You have weakness in an arm or leg.
- You are confused or have difficulty speaking.
- You suddenly have trouble breathing.
Call your cardiologist if:
- You gain weight for no known reason.
- You feel weak or more tired than usual.
- You have increased swelling in your legs, ankles, feet, or abdomen.
- Your symptoms return or get worse.
- You feel like your heart is beating faster than normal, fluttering, or jumping in your chest.
- You urinate less than usual or not at all.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
You may need any of the following:
- Heart medicine helps strengthen or regulate your heartbeat.
- Blood thinners help prevent blood clots. Examples of blood thinners include heparin and warfarin. Clots can cause strokes, heart attacks, and death. The following are general safety guidelines to follow while you are taking a blood thinner:
- Watch for bleeding and bruising while you take blood thinners. Watch for bleeding from your gums or nose. Watch for blood in your urine and bowel movements. Use a soft washcloth on your skin, and a soft toothbrush to brush your teeth. This can keep your skin and gums from bleeding. If you shave, use an electric shaver. Do not play contact sports.
- Tell your dentist and other healthcare providers that you take anticoagulants. Wear a bracelet or necklace that says you take this medicine.
- Do not start or stop any medicines unless your healthcare provider tells you to. Many medicines cannot be used with blood thinners.
- Tell your healthcare provider right away if you forget to take the medicine, or if you take too much.
- Warfarin is a blood thinner that you may need to take. The following are things you should be aware of if you take warfarin:
- Foods and medicines can affect the amount of warfarin in your blood. Do not make major changes to your diet while you take warfarin. Warfarin works best when you eat about the same amount of vitamin K every day. Vitamin K is found in green leafy vegetables and certain other foods. Ask for more information about what to eat when you are taking warfarin.
- You will need to see your healthcare provider for follow-up visits when you are on warfarin. You will need regular blood tests. These tests are used to decide how much medicine you need.
- Blood pressure medicine is given to lower your blood pressure. A controlled blood pressure helps protect your organs, such as your heart, lungs, brain, and kidneys. Take your blood pressure medicine exactly as directed.
- Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
- Manage your other health conditions. Diabetes and high blood pressure that are not controlled will increase your risk for heart problems.
- Limit your liquids. Talk to your healthcare provider about how much liquid to drink in a day. Your risk for fluid buildup and swelling increases if you drink too much. Your risk for dehydration increases if you do not drink enough liquid. Your heart has to work harder with too much or too little liquid.
- Eat heart healthy foods. Eat whole grains, fruits, and vegetables every day. Limit salt and high-fat foods. Ask your healthcare provider for more information on a heart healthy diet.
- Avoid alcohol. Alcohol can increase your symptoms by causing dehydration and weight gain.
- Talk to your healthcare provider about exercise. Your healthcare provider will help you make a plan for exercise. He or she will tell you which exercises you need to avoid, such as weightlifting and running.
- Do not smoke. Smoking weakens your heart and makes shortness of breath and other symptoms worse. If you smoke, it is never too late to quit. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you use these products.
Follow up with a cardiologist within 3 days or as directed:
Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
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