Exercise in hypertrophic cardiomyopathy

J Cardiovasc Transl Res. 2009 Dec;2(4):407-14. doi: 10.1007/s12265-009-9134-5. Epub 2009 Oct 14.


The risk of sudden cardiac death (SCD) associated with vigorous athletic competition in individuals with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is well documented, and is the basis for recommended exclusion from competitive sports independent of other risk factors. Although SCD risk with recreational exercise is less well defined, published guidelines for participation in recreational sports, based on a consensus of expert opinion, offer a valuable framework for counseling patients. Exercise stress testing is an important diagnostic and prognostic tool in the evaluation of HCM patients, providing an objective measure of functional capacity, physiologic hemodynamic responses to stress, presence of ischemia, and provocable left ventricular outflow tract obstruction. The value of cardiopulmonary exercise testing in HCM is less well studied than in the heart failure population, but can be used to set a safe target for exercise intensity as part of an individualized exercise prescription. The long-term effects of exercise on HCM pathophysiology are largely theoretical at this stage. Potential harmful effects of fatiguing exercise include prolonged contractile dysfunction resulting from microvascular ischemia and energetic compromise. Conversely, several animal studies have shown that voluntary exercise prevents or reverses many pathologic features of HCM, including those related to apoptosis and energetics. Substantial evidence for health-promoting benefits of exercise in the general population, in addition to promising safety and efficacy data in patients with chronic heart failure, emphasizes the need to attain a reasonable balance between potential risks and benefits of aerobic fitness in individuals with HCM.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cardiomyopathy, Hypertrophic / complications*
  • Cardiomyopathy, Hypertrophic / diagnosis
  • Cardiomyopathy, Hypertrophic / physiopathology
  • Cardiomyopathy, Hypertrophic / therapy
  • Death, Sudden, Cardiac / etiology*
  • Death, Sudden, Cardiac / prevention & control
  • Disease Progression
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Exercise Test
  • Exercise Therapy
  • Exercise Tolerance
  • Exercise*
  • Humans
  • Patient Selection
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Treatment Outcome