You see it in the headlines far too often, “Young athlete collapses.” In many cases, the previously undiagnosed condition is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or HCM, and is the leading cause of sudden cardiac arrest in young athletes.
HCM occurs from a thickening of the heart wall that results in an obstruction of blood flow. This in turn causes the heart to work much harder. While it is a rare disease, in the majority of cases, HCM is inherited. HCM can affect men and women of all ages, but it can be detected beginning around age 13. In many cases, there are no symptoms that appear before cardiac arrhythmias occur, which may lead to sudden death.
An echocardiogram, which is a quick and non-invasive screening, is the gold standard in the industry for detecting HCM.
Several years ago, my son Victor collapsed in a gym during basketball pratice. The cause of his collapse--sudden cardiac death. Vic was a healthy 18-year-old who was preparing for and looking forward to attending college. He had been a avid basketball player since the age of five. Vic led Dutch Fork High School to their first championship playoff game in school history. This was a first for Dutch Fork boys to be both Region and Lower State Champs. It was also the first time in the history of Dutch Fork that a player had scored over 1,000 points in a season--Vic was that player. He was outgoing and happy, and was liked by everyone. He touched many lives through his passion and commitment to basketball.
I lost someone so dear to me and so suddenly, without any warning. Vic showed no symptoms of anything abnormal. I learned after his death that he had hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), or an enlarged heart...a silent killer.
I had spoken to Vic twice that day. I had no idea that they would be our last conversations with each other.