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High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure/heart wall thickening

03/29/2002

Question:

After a bout of Supraventricular tachycardia my doctor sent me to a cardiologist for testing all the tests came back normal except for an echocariogram of my heart it showed that the wall of the heart was thickened. They diagnosed the cause as being high blood pressure. Up to this point whenever my blood pressure has been taken (at least once a month for three years) it has been normal. Are there any other conditions that can cause this? The cardiologist put me on Cardizim and told me to come back in a year.

Answer:

The most common cause for a thickened heart muscle is high blood pressure. This thickening of the left ventricular heart muscle is is called hypertrophy. In some patients, left ventricular hypertrophy can precede the onset of high blood pressure. It is therefore possible to have a normal blood pressure and a thickened heart wall. Most patients in this situation will eventually develop high blood pressure.

There is a rare disease called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which also can cause a thickened heart muscle. The cause of this disease is unknown but is often inherited. Only about 0.5 percent of all people who have an echocardiogram done have hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. The vast majority of cases of thickened heart muscle are due to high blood pressure.

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Response by:

Max C Reif, MD Max C Reif, MD
Professor of Medicine
Director of Hypertension Section
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati