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Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy
Friday, August 17, 2018 - 12 Noon (Eastern Time)

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Harry Lever, MD

  • Staff Cardiologist
  • Robert and Suzanne Tomsich Department of Cardiovascular Medicine

Take this opportunity to have your questions answered by Harry Lever, MD, Medical Director of the Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Center and staff cardiologist in the Robert and Suzanne Tomsich Department of Cardiovascular Medicine.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is a complex type of heart disease that affects the heart muscle. It causes thickening of the heart muscle (especially the ventricles, or lower heart chambers), left ventricular stiffness, mitral valve changes and cellular changes.

Thickening of the heart muscle (myocardium) occurs most commonly at the septum. The septum is the muscular wall that separates the left and right side of the heart. Problems occur when the septum between the heart’s lower chambers, or ventricles, is thickened. The thickened septum may cause a narrowing that can block or reduce the blood flow from the left ventricle to the aorta - a condition called “outflow tract obstruction.” The ventricles must pump harder to overcome the narrowing or blockage. This type of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy may be called hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy (HOCM).

HCM can be inherited, caused by an abnormality in a gene that codes the characteristics for the heart muscle. There are many genes that can cause HCM. When a gene defect is present, the type of HCM that develops varies greatly within the family. In addition, some people who have the HCM gene may never develop the disease. Hypertrophy may be acquired as a result of high blood pressure or aging. In other instances, the cause of hypertrophy and HCM is unknown.

One of the major advances in our understanding of cardiomyopathies is the use of genetic testing. This allows us to identify the specific genetic mutations that lead to the disease and detect mutation carriers even before the disease begins. Advanced imaging techniques also allow to identify problems with the heart muscle and plan the best treatment possible. In addition, new drugs and devices are being developed to treat patients with some forms of cardiomyopathy.

Harry M. Lever, MD, is a staff cardiologist in the Section of Cardiovascular Imaging, the Robert and Suzanne Tomsich Department of Cardiovascular Medicine, at the Sydell and Arnold Miller Family Heart & Vascular Institute at Cleveland Clinic. Dr. Lever specializes in echocardiography and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

Dr. Lever, who is board-certified in internal medicine and cardiovascular disease, is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians, the American College of Cardiology, the American College of Chest Physicians and the American Heart Association.

A graduate of the University of Pittsburgh Medical School, he completed his residency at Montefiore Hospital in Pittsburgh and his fellowship in cardiology at the University of Rochester in New York.

He has one of the largest practices in the country for the treatment of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

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