NYU Langone heart specialists often recommend certain lifestyle guidelines for people with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). Your doctor may ask you to lose weight if you are overweight, quit smoking, and limit your alcohol intake.
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Exercise is essential for health and wellbeing, and we encourage people with HCM to exercise. However, because this condition can cause serious heart problems during very strenuous exercise, your doctor may recommend limiting competition in athletics and extreme levels of exertion. Each person has recommendations for exercise tailored to their age and overall health.
These lifestyle changes can help improve symptoms and prevent the condition from worsening.
Regular exercise reduces heart rate and blood pressure and provides overall health benefits. However, it is important to follow your doctor’s recommendations regarding activity levels because extremes of exercise can be harmful to some people with HCM. Your NYU Langone doctor can help determine the type and amount of exercise that is right for you.
If exercise or activity causes symptoms, such as chest pain or shortness of breath, stop immediately and report them to your doctor. It’s also important to avoid exercising on hot days and to stay hydrated. Your doctor may recommend exercising on an empty stomach because eating a large meal can worsen obstruction in some people.
Be sure to consult with your heart specialist before starting any exercise program.
Hypertension can worsen the symptoms of HCM, so it’s important to achieve or maintain a healthy blood pressure. Take blood pressure medication as directed by the doctor managing your HCM. This is because some blood pressure medications can worsen obstruction in certain people.
Your doctor may advise you to use a home monitor to track your blood pressure levels and to report any unusual findings.
Eating a healthy diet can improve heart health. A heart-healthy diet includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats and fish. We recommend a diet low in animal fat to reduce cholesterol. Nutritionists at NYU Langone’s Rusk Rehabilitation can create a diet plan for you and teach you how to read food labels to get the best results.
NYU Langone doctors recommend that people with this condition limit or avoid alcohol. Alcoholic drinks can worsen obstruction in the heart, which reduce blood flow to the body. Alcohol consumption can also promote weight gain, which can worsen symptoms.
If you have diabetes, you’re at risk for coronary artery disease, which can worsen HCM symptoms. Your NYU Langone cardiac doctor may refer you to a specialist who can help you manage diabetes using home glucose monitoring, oral medication, or insulin injections.
Excessive stress can raise your blood pressure, which can increase the risk of cardiomyopathy. To better manage it, get plenty of sleep, exercise regularly as instructed by your doctor, and consider practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and yoga, which can benefit the body and mind.
Smoking tobacco can worsen some HCM symptoms. It causes a narrowing of the coronary arteries. The combination of HCM and coronary artery disease is dangerous. If you smoke, experts at NYU Langone’s Tobacco Cessation Programs can teach you techniques designed to help you quit.
In addition to patient care, our doctors are also involved in scientific research and in providing education for medical professionals.