Exercise and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy: Two incompatible entities?

Clin Cardiol. 2020 Aug;43(8):889-896. doi: 10.1002/clc.23343. Epub 2020 Feb 12.


A greater understanding of the pathogenic mechanisms underpinning hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) has translated to improved medical care and better survival of affected individuals. Historically these patients were considered to be at high risk of sudden cardiac death (SCD) during exercise; therefore, exercise recommendations were highly conservative and promoted a sedentary life style. There is emerging evidence that suggests that exercise in HCM has a favorable effect on cardiovascular remodeling and moderate exercise programs have not raised any safety concerns. Furthermore, individuals with HCM have a similar burden of atherosclerotic risk factors as the general population in whom exercise has been associated with a reduction in myocardial infarction, stroke, and heart failure, especially among those with a high-risk burden. Small studies revealed that athletes who choose to continue with regular competition do not demonstrate adverse outcomes when compared to those who discontinue sport, and active individuals implanted with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator do not have an increased risk of appropriate shocks or other adverse events. The recently published exercise recommendations from the European Association for Preventative Cardiology account for more contemporary evidence and adopt a more liberal stance regarding competitive and high intensity sport in individuals with low-risk HCM. This review addresses the issue of exercise in individuals with HCM, and explores current evidence supporting safety of exercise in HCM, potential caveats, and areas of further research.

Keywords: cardiac hypertrophy; cardiac rehabilitation; cardiomyopathy; sports medicine.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiomyopathy, Hypertrophic / epidemiology
  • Cardiomyopathy, Hypertrophic / etiology
  • Cardiomyopathy, Hypertrophic / physiopathology*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Global Health
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Risk Assessment / methods*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sports / physiology*