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Preventing nearly all sudden cardiac death incidents in HCM patients

Drs. Barry and Marty Maron, HCM experts, talking together.New research by Tufts Medical Center will help guide cardiologists worldwide on how to treat hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), a genetic disease characterized by excessive thickening of the heart muscle and the most common cause of sudden cardiac death in young people. The study, published in the journal JAMA Cardiology, examines how the Tufts MC HCM Center determines which HCM patients are at high risk for sudden cardiac death and should receive a potentially life-saving implantable cardiac defibrillator (ICD). The study illustrates how the standards developed by the Tufts MC HCM Center have determined which HCM patients should have the implant with a high level of accuracy.

About the study

Dr. Rowin is a cardiologist at Tufts Medical Center in Boston with special expertise in HCM.Dr. Ethan Rowin is a cardiologist in Boston at Tufts Medical Center.Members of the HCM team at Tufts MC, including the Center’s Director, Martin Maron, MD, his father (widely considered the Father of HCM) Barry Maron, MD and Ethan Rowin, MD, reviewed more than 17 years of patient data from their HCM clinic, one of the busiest in the world. Each HCM patient was evaluated for seven critical HCM risk factors, including family history and heart thickness. Those determined to be at highest risk (about 25 percent) were recommended for ICD placement. 

Of the patients who had the device implanted, 16 percent (82 patients) later had their lives saved by the device – their hearts were restarted by the ICD after suffering a major cardiac event. Only five patients in 17 years who did not receive ICDs suffered sudden cardiac death as a result of their HCM; two of those patients were recommended for ICDs, but declined.

Because of this important research, doctors who treat HCM will now have highly-accurate, standardized guidelines to determine which patients are at highest risk for sudden cardiac death and would benefit from a potentially lifesaving implantable device. 

Watch Drs. Martin and Barry Maron speak about the new guidelines >