GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) – Today we’re learning more about a common, genetic heart condition that can lead to serious health problems if it goes untreated… we were joined by Dr. David Fermin, a cardiologist with Spectrum Health Medical Group!

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy is the most common genetic cardiovascular disorder, and affects at least 1 in 500 people in the United States. It is characterized by abnormal thickening of the heart muscle, which can cause multiple problems.

These include obstruction of blood flow out of the heart, congestive heart failure symptoms, or heart rhythm disorders leading to loss of consciousness or sudden cardiac death.

Who does HCM affect? And what are the symptoms of the disease?

HCM can affect people at nearly any age and often goes undiagnosed. Many people have few, if any, symptoms; others may experience shortness of breath, dizziness, palpitations or chest discomfort. Some patients experience problems in the heart’s electrical system resulting in life-threatening heart rhythms (arrhythmias).

The disease commonly has a genetic origin, so genetic counseling and screening for family members is recommended.

How is the disease treated?

Patients diagnosed with HCM require an extensive evaluation, regular follow-up, education, genetic counseling and screening for family members.

Some patients may require cardiac surgery to remove the obstructing heart muscle, and/or implantation of a defibrillator to prevent sudden cardiac death.

The Spectrum Health program includes the latest diagnostic techniques, cardiology specialists (trained in advanced imaging, interventional cardiology, heart failure and electrophysiology), a cardiac surgeon, physician assistant, nurse coordinator, genetic counselor and social worker.

This facilitates a comprehensive approach to diagnosis, education and treatment.

The Spectrum Health HCM Program was recently designated a national Center of Excellence by the Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Association (HCMA). What does this signify?

HCMA Centers of Excellence are recognized for providing comprehensive diagnostic, treatment, education and research programs. Spectrum Health joins 25 other centers nationwide with this recognition, and becomes the second center in the state of Michigan.

This designation is the culmination of years spent building the necessary resources and collaboration of specialties, followed by an intensive site evaluation of the program by the HCMA.

How can I learn more about the disease and about Spectrum Health’s program?

To learn more about the Spectrum Health Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Program, contact the HCM Coordinator at 616.885.5355

You can also find out more information about the disease and Spectrum Health’s program on the web at