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Clinical and genetic aspects of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy

Centenary Institute

  • Early-Mid Career Fellowship
Organ System:
  • Cardiovascular
Date Funded:
  • 31 May, 2018
Chief Investigator/s:
  • Dr. Jodie Ingles

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is a clinically variable disease, ranging from asymptomatic diagnoses, to heart failure and sudden cardiac death. It occurs in 1 in 200-500 of the general population, and given it is an inherited disease close family members are recommended to undergo lifetime clinical surveillance. Due to the wide variability in disease presentation and features, there is little ability to predict who will develop the worst outcomes, despite decades of research.

Recent advances in genetic technologies have allowed an opportunity to better understand the underlying genetic causes of HCM, but have also challenged the prevailing view that HCM is primarily an inherited disease. My recent paper in Circulation: Cardiovascular Genetics proposed for the first time that a non-familial sub-group of HCM exists and that it occurs in approximately 40 per cent of cases. Non-familial HCM patients have a less severe disease and while current clinical guidelines recommend lifetime clinical screening of their first-degree relatives, our finding suggests this is not necessary.

No study to date has focused exclusively on the familial HCM sub-group. Reassessment of risk algorithms in a more homogeneous patient population will allow development of accurate risk prediction scores. Until now, risk scores have been developed in populations including both nonfamilial and sarcomere positive HCM and not surprisingly show poor predictive ability. To date, no scores have incorporated genetic variables, and based on my recent work there is a strong likelihood that genotype can impact outcomes.

For the first time, genetic testing could offer a clearer way to understand the disease, allowing us to make more precise recommendations for family screening and better predict those more likely to have poor outcomes. This will reduce uncertainty, but also minimise unnecessary health care resources from clinical screening family members who are not at increased risk of disease.

Note: This project received project funding only. This project did not received full Fellowship funding.