Thickening of the Heart Walls: A Prevalent Condition in Young Athletes
By: Mariana Mestizo Hernandez
September 30, 2023
During the second edition of “Your Heart Health,” held in commemoration of World Health Day Heart, various relevant topics in the field of cardiovascular health were addressed. One of these topics focused on treatments for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
“I believe that one of the most shocking manifestations that the field of cardiology has refers to the sudden appearance in people who thought they were healthy, specifically athletes, when a diagnosis is made, it is found that they have an abnormality in the thickness of the walls of the heart,” said Dr. Rafael Calderón, clinical cardiologist specializing in heart failure and transplantation.
The expert explained that the heart, an organ that never rests, performs two fundamental functions. The first, known as diastolic function, involves the filling of the heart with blood for subsequent distribution throughout the body, being a complex process.
The second, called systolic function, consists of the expulsion of blood from the heart. Any problem in either of these two functions can result in heart failure. “The events that give rise to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy occur in young individuals,” he added.
The cardiologist explained that the first measures to address this condition do not seek to change the anatomy, since there is no method that can achieve this, since the treatment to reduce the thickness of the heart is mechanical in nature and often requires surgical intervention or direct injections into the heart.
Pharmacological treatment, for its part, aims to control symptoms by slowing the heart rate and thus stabilizing blood flow, “to allow the heart, which is very thick, with very small cavities, can fill with blood effectively,” he added.
Likewise, the doctor mentioned the existence of medications known as calcium channel blockers, which are used as an alternative in case beta blockers are not well tolerated by some patients; both play the role of slowing down the heart rate.
The specialist emphasized that before resorting to a surgical intervention, one should try to give a type of noble treatment, which is a medication that works on the innermost part, at a molecular level. “Cardiomyopathies that are obstructive in nature, which have not responded to beta blockers or other drugs, can use this option.
“Once the patient does not respond to these pharmacological treatments, they must be treated more aggressively, which is where the surgeon must open the patient’s chest and look for the point of the heart affected, pulling on the mitral valve, allowing blood to pass through. In the case of people at high risk, direct injections of a type of alcohol can be applied to an important coronary artery, causing an ablation,” he concluded.
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“Many times patients do not know where to go if they have chest pain or a heart attack,” says cardiologist (Link provided)