Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy: Care Instructions

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The heart

Your Care Instructions

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (say "hy-per-TROH-fik kar-dee-oh-my-AWP-uh-thee") is a disease in which the heart muscle grows too thick. The thickened heart muscle can make it hard for the heart to pump blood well. This can cause shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, fainting, and fatigue. It also can affect the heart's electrical system. This increases the risk for life-threatening abnormal heartbeats. Your doctor may recommend a device called an ICD (implantable cardioverter-defibrillator) to stop these abnormal heartbeats.

Good care at home can help you cope with symptoms and get the best results from your medications. It is very important that you follow up with your doctor.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor or nurse call line if you think you are having a problem with your medicine. You will get more details on the specific medicines your doctor prescribes.
  • Limit alcohol. Alcohol can make your heart weaker.
  • Talk to your doctor about what level of exercise and what kinds of activities are safe for you. You may need to avoid too much strenuous activity.
  • Have your family members tested for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. The condition runs in families, and regular testing can identify it before it causes symptoms.
  • Do not smoke. Smoking can make this condition worse. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor about stop-smoking programs and medicines. These can increase your chances of quitting for good.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You have symptoms of a heart attack. These may include:
    • Chest pain or pressure, or a strange feeling in the chest.
    • Sweating.
    • Shortness of breath.
    • Nausea or vomiting.
    • Pain, pressure, or a strange feeling in the back, neck, jaw, or upper belly or in one or both shoulders or arms.
    • Light-headedness or sudden weakness.
    After you call 911, the operator may tell you to chew 1 adult-strength or 2 to 4 low-dose aspirin. Wait for an ambulance. Do not try to drive yourself.
  • You have severe trouble breathing.
  • You cough up pink, foamy mucus and you have trouble breathing.
  • You passed out (lost consciousness).

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have new or increased shortness of breath.
  • You are dizzy or light-headed, or you feel like you may faint.
  • You have sudden weight gain, such as more than 1 to 1.3 kilograms in a day or 2 kilograms in a week. (Your doctor may suggest a different range of weight gain.)
  • You have increased swelling in your legs, ankles, or feet.
  • You have an ICD and you have signs of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the cut (incision).
    • Pus draining from the incision.
    • A fever.
  • You have a sudden episode of a skipping heartbeat or a very fast heartbeat.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if you have any problems.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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