Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Center and Research Institute
Your First HCM Visit
How should I prepare for my first visit?
A successful first visit to the HCM Center at Tufts Medical Center entails a detailed and accurate exchange of information. Once you’ve made your appointment, please compile and bring with you:
- Any CDs or print-outs of previous tests, such as: Holter monitor reports, echocardiograms (echos), stress tests, cardiac catheterizations, and/or cardiac MRI results (Images are VERY helpful to us!)
- A list of your medical illnesses, prior hospitalizations and any previous surgeries
- Any doctors’ notes
- A written list of any and all symptoms you have experienced and how long you’ve had them—no matter how minor you believe them to be
- Medications are first line therapy for patients with symptoms of HCM. It’s extremely important for us to know what has worked for you and what has not. Such information helps us help you when considering treatment strategies.
- Provide a list of all current and past medications, including how long you have been taking them, any recent changes in dosing and what medications you have tried in the past
- Tell us of any over-the-counter medications, vitamins, anti-depressants or herbal supplements you may be taking (*Some of our more potent heart medications may be considered unsafe when used in combination with certain anti-depressants and other over the counter medications)
- Note any medication allergies or drug intolerances.
- It is extremely helpful for us to know as many details as possible about your family history, including:
- Do you have any family members with HCM?
- Is there a family history of unexplained and/or sudden cardiac death?
- Do you have any family members with mysterious heart diseases and/or issues?
- The person you bring with you can serve as a vital set of extra eyes and ears. In our experience, the friend or relative accompanying you often asks at least one important and relevant question or provides supplemental history or observational details that are of great help. This person can also:
- Help you remember what previous doctors have told you
- Be present to ask questions you may forget to ask
- Serve as an interpreter
- Serve as a note taker
- Be a support system
What should I expect at my first visit?
- A confirmation of your HCM diagnosis and resolutions to any/all uncertainties you may have
- A description and visual presentation of your personal heart “morphology” (the amount of heart thickness you have, its location, and any obstruction of blood flow at rest or with exercise)
- An assessment of your personal risk factors for sudden death
- Recommendations for family screenings, if applicable
- A review of your personal treatment options. One size does not fit all. HCM is a complex and diverse disease and care must be individualized and tailored to meet your specific needs. No single therapy is appropriate for all HCM patients.
- You will leave with a plan of care that is mutually agreed upon by you and our team.
- If you are starting a new medication, knowledge of when you should expect to see improvement in your symptoms
- If you are considering an invasive option, knowledge of how you should make arrangements
- When you should come back to our HCM Center for your next follow-up visit
- Our contact information—email addresses and phone numbers—as we encourage you to reach out to us with any questions or concerns
- Remember! This is a time for you to:
- Ask us any questions you have as we’re here to alleviate any anxieties or concerns
- Clarify any misconceptions about HCM the disease
- Get a complete understanding of your heart’s unique characteristics
- Establish a trusting and mutually respectful relationship with our HCM team
What happens after my initial visit?
After your initial visit, we will send a summary of everything that was discussed and decided to your local cardiologist and your primary care physician. And remember, from this point forward we are your team—never hesitate to call or email us with questions or concerns.