Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Program

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Program

The Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Program at the Massachusetts General Hospital Corrigan Minehan Heart Center in Boston provides expert care for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a condition characterized by an abnormal thickening of the left ventricle's muscle.
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Call to request an appointment or referral: 866-644-8910


Patients are usually referred to the Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Program at the Massachusetts General Hospital Corrigan Minehan Heart Center in Boston by their primary care physician or cardiologist because of cardiac symptoms, a heart murmur, or an abnormal ECG or echocardiogram, or because a family member has hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. After a personal and family history and physical examination, physicians may recommend further testing through any of the following procedures:

The Mass General Hospital cardiac ultrasound and radiology departments use state-of-the-art equipment for their diagnostic studies, which are interpreted by experts in the evaluation of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

For patients with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, there are a number of risk factors which may place them at a higher-than-average risk of sudden death. For every patient, Corrigan Minehan Heart Center physicians determine whether any of these risk factors are present. Some patients are candidates for placement of an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD). The Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Program includes arrhythmia specialists who advise patients as to whether an ICD should be placed.

A Comprehensive Treatment Plan

The treatment for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy depends on the severity of symptoms and the results of testing. Although there is currently no cure for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, physicians at the Corrigan Minehan Heart Center offer a number of medications and procedures to favorably affect symptoms and the course of the disease:

  • For some patients who have hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, but do not have cardiac symptoms, no treatment is necessary
  • For patients with symptoms, the first line of treatment is medical therapy
  • For patients with hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy who have symptoms that cannot be controlled with medical therapy, we offer alcohol septal ablation or septal myectomy
  • Many patients with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy have arrhythmias such as atrial fibrillation, atrial flutter or ventricular tachycardia. Arrhythmia specialists are available for consultation on medications, ICD or pacemaker placement and other procedure

Family Screening

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is, in many cases, an inherited genetic disease. Children, siblings, and parents of patients with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy may undergo screening with ECGs and echocardiograms to determine whether they also have hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Genetic screening with a blood test is also available. The Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Program offers expertise in cardiac genetics for counseling families of patients with this condition.

Innovative Research

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy experts collaborate to make treatment recommendations based on leading clinical cardiovascular research. Our patients have the opportunity to participate in clinical trials, including potential new treatments for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. These research efforts influence the medical community, and our physicians often publish their results in distinguished academic journals.

About this Program

The Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Program at the Massachusetts General Hospital Corrigan Minehan Heart Center offers patients a thorough, multidisciplinary evaluation by experts in cardiomyopathy, echocardiography, radiology, cardiac genetics, arrhythmia, and if needed, interventional cardiology and cardiac surgery. These clinicians work together to provide a comprehensive diagnosis and treatment of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a heart disease characterized by abnormal thickening of the heart muscle of the left ventricle, the chamber of the heart that pumps blood to the body.

Experienced Physicians, Leading Techniques

Program co-directors Michael A. Fifer, MD, a cardiologist with extensive experience in the evaluation and management of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and Gus J. Vlahakes, MD, a surgeon widely recognized for his contributions to the field of cardiac surgery, lead a multidisciplinary team of clinical specialists to treat their patients.

Physicians at the Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Program have treated over 400 patients with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Dr. Fifer has performed over 100 alcohol septal ablation procedures in patients who require relief of severe symptoms of the disease. In addition, Drs. Fifer has conducted numerous clinical research studies in an effort to better understand and manage this disease.

All of our physicians are on the faculty of Harvard Medical School, which means they not only have a mission to provide the best possible patient care, but also a commitment to educate the next generation of medical professionals.

Performing Alcohol Septal Ablation

Alcohol septal ablation is an innovative procedure used to treat patients who have a form of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy called hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy. Mass General clinicians have set a safety standard in performing this procedure, completing over 100 septal ablations without any procedural mortality. Performed by interventional cardiologists, this minimally invasive treatment was introduced in London 13 years ago. Dr. Fifer brought the technique to Mass General 10 years ago.

Alcohol septal ablation is designed to remove a small amount of thickened heart muscle that blocks the flow of blood out of the heart. Dr. Fifer and colleague Igor Palacios, MD, inject alcohol through a catheter they thread up the femoral artery through the aorta into the tiny branch of the coronary arteries that feeds the critically located segment of heart muscle.

Conditions & Diseases

This Corrigan Minehan Heart Center program specializes in treating patients with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. If you are interested in learning how Corrigan Minehan Heart Center physicians treat dilated and restrictive cardiomyopathy, visit the Heart Failure and Cardiac Transplant Program. To learn about general cardiomyopathy:

  • Cardiomyopathy

    Cardiomyopathy is any disease of the heart muscle in which the heart loses its ability to pump blood effectively.

Patient Education

Mass General is dedicated to ensuring that people understand their health care choices and have the necessary information to make decisions affecting their health and well being. The related support and wellness information listed below can play a role in treatment options.

  • Patient Guide to Cardiac Surgery (PDF)

    Learn what to expect before, during and after your surgery at the Massachusetts General Hospital Heart Center by downloading and printing our patient guide to cardiac surgery.

  • Understanding and Preparing for a Catheterization Procedure (PDF)

    As you prepare for your catheterization, Massachusetts General Hospital clinicians want you to feel as comfortable as possible. To help you understand what to expect during your visit, this booklet describes key steps of your catheterization procedure.

  • Frequently Asked Questions About Cardiac Anesthesia

    The Massachusetts General Hospital Heart Center offers a patient guide to cardiac anesthesia. Our dedicated clinicians believe it is important for you to know what to expect before, during and after a cardiac anesthesia.

  • Visitor's Guide to Cardiac Surgery

    Cardiac nurses at the Massachusetts General Hospital Heart Center offer support and guidance during a family member's open-heart surgery or transplantation.


  • Heart Center celebrates program milestone - 12/28/2007, Clinical

    Members of the Massachusetts General Hospital Heart Center's Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) Program recently celebrated a program milestone — the 100th alcohol septal ablation.


Contact Us

Corrigan Minehan Heart Center

55 Fruit Street Boston, MA 02114
  • Near Public Transit
  • Accessible
  • Phone: 866-644-8910

If you are a new patient, you may call the Corrigan Minehan Heart Center outpatient access office at 866-644-8910, or complete our online appointment form to request an appointment. A member of our access team will ask you more about your condition and symptoms, and match you with the best-fitting Corrigan Minehan Heart Center physician.

Request an appointment Request a second opinion

Call to request an appointment or referral: 866-644-8910

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