UT Southwestern designated Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Center of Excellence

UT Southwestern Medical Center Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Team. Front row, left to right: Pietro Bajona, M.D.; Micki Lacker, NP; Vivian Dimas, M.D.; Aslan Turer, M.D. Back row, left to right: Mark Link, M.D.; Vlad Zaha, M.D., Ph.D. Not pictured: Anuja Mathew, PA; Tracy Sheehan, RN

DALLAS – Feb. 19, 2018 – UT Southwestern Medical Center has been certified a Center of Excellence by the Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Association (HCMA) – one of less than 30 Centers of Excellence nationwide and the first certified center in North Texas.

HCMA Centers of Excellence are recognized for providing comprehensive diagnostic, treatment, education, and research programs for Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM), a genetic disease that leads to thickening of the heart muscle and causes shortness of breath, chest pain, abnormal heart rhythms, and even sudden cardiac death, but can be difficult to diagnose.

“These are rigorous certification standards, and we are very pleased to achieve these high marks for the care, research, and education programs at a national level by the Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Association,” said cardiologist Dr. Mark Link, Professor of Internal Medicine, who contributed to develop a comprehensive multidisciplinary program along with fellow cardiologist Dr. Aslan Turer, Associate Professor of Internal Medicine, and surgeon Dr. Pietro Bajona, Assistant Professor of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery.

HCM Symptoms

Symptoms of HCM include:

  • Palpitations from abnormal heart rhythms
  • Angina (chest pain)
  • Fainting spells (syncope)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sudden cardiac death

HCMA Centers of Excellence must provide a comprehensive list of services, including:

  • Adult and pediatric cardiac electrophysiology (including implanted cardiac devices)
  • Cardiac surgical services: surgical septal myectomy
  • Interventional cardiology
  • Pediatric cardiology
  • Advanced heart failure and cardiac transplantation
  • Genetic counseling
  • High-quality imaging, including state-of-the-art echocardiogram and cardiac MRI
  • Commitment to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy research
  • The ability to see families and accommodate those traveling from a distance

HCM is the most common genetic heart condition affecting about 1 in every 300 people, or more than 1 million people in the U.S. Also known as idiopathic hypertrophic subaortic stenosis (IHSS) or hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy (HOCM), HCM is usually asymmetrical, meaning one side of the heart is thicker than the other.

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Active HCM Studies

  • LIVE-HCM: Understanding the Role of Exercise in the Lives of Patients With HCM
  • Characterization of Metabolism in the Heart of Patients With Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy
  • High Intensity Exercise for Increasing Cardiorespiratory Fitness In Patients With Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy

Upcoming Studies

  • Clinical and Biochemical Biobank From Patients With HCM
  • EXPLORER-HCM: Randomized Clinical Trial of MyoKardia 461-005 in Patients With HOCM

The condition is usually inherited, but many times no obvious family history of the condition is known and there may be no symptoms present. As a result, it’s important to be evaluated by a specialist if you or a member of your family has HCM, even if you are not experiencing any symptoms, said Dr. Link, Director of Cardiac Electrophysiology at UT Southwestern.

In addition, high blood pressure or intense athletics also can cause ventricular walls to thicken, but are different from HCM and require different treatments, making the appropriate diagnosis important, explained Dr. Turer, who directs the HCM clinic dedicated to genetically screening for, counseling patients about, and treating the condition.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy can be treated by medications, and UT Southwestern is among centers participating in a clinical trial aimed at identifying another kind of drug that could help patients with HCM. When medication is not effective, other options include myectomy surgery to trim the thickening or a catheter-based procedure.

The Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Association was founded more than two decades ago and is now the largest organization serving those with Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, their families, and caregivers in the field. The HCMA provides support, advocacy, and education to patients, families, the medical community, and the public about hypertrophic cardiomyopathy while supporting research and fostering the development of treatments.

There are currently 29 HCMA Recognized Centers of Excellence across the country. UT Southwestern will be the second HCM Center of Excellence in Texas, along with its sister institution at UT San Antonio.

About UT Southwestern Medical Center

UT Southwestern, one of the premier academic medical centers in the nation, integrates pioneering biomedical research with exceptional clinical care and education. The institution’s faculty has received six Nobel Prizes, and includes 22 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 17 members of the National Academy of Medicine, and 14 Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigators. The faculty of more than 2,700 is responsible for groundbreaking medical advances and is committed to translating science-driven research quickly to new clinical treatments. UT Southwestern physicians provide care in about 80 specialties to more than 100,000 hospitalized patients, 600,000 emergency room cases, and oversee approximately 2.2 million outpatient visits a year.