When diagnosing hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, your doctor will perform a physical exam, review your personal and family medical history, order blood tests as well as other tests that may include:
- Echocardiogram is a non-invasive test that uses ultra sound (sound waves) and a device called a transducer—which is placed on the surface of the chest—to create a moving picture of the heart. This helps to determine how well the heart is able to pump blood.
- Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) is a simple non-invasive test that can be done in the doctor’s office using small adhesive pads called electrodes that are placed on the arms, legs, and chest. These electrodes are connected to a machine that detects and prints out the heart's electrical impulses, giving a 10-second snapshot of what the heart is doing right at that moment.
- Chest X-ray is a non-invasive test that takes pictures of the heart and lungs; these can help the doctor determine if there’s a problem that is causing discomfort.
- Holter heart monitor is used to give a detailed analysis of the heart’s electrical activity over a period of 24 hours (1 day). For this non-invasive test, which is done at home, 4 or 5 adhesive electrodes are placed on the chest and connected to an electrical recording device that is usually worn on the belt or on a neck/shoulder strap. This device records every heartbeat for the duration of the time that it’s worn.
- Exercise stress (or treadmill) test is used to look for any arrhythmias that may occur during exercise or higher adrenaline levels. During this test, an EKG continuously records the heart’s activity while the patient is walking or running on a treadmill at the hospital.
- MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) uses radio waves and a powerful magnetic field to produce a detailed picture of the heart and its main vessels.
- Heart catheterization can be used to not only treat a heart condition but to diagnose one. During this procedure a catheter (long, thin, flexible tube) is inserted through a blood vessel in the leg, arm or neck and guided to a coronary artery or a heart chamber where measurements (e.g., of blood pumping volume) or pictures (e.g., of coronary artery opening size) are taken.
In addition, since hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is usually discovered by chance during a routine exam, early screening for patients with a family history is recommended. Other possible tests may include: genetic tests (family members too), blood tests, advanced heart rhythm tests, and other tests for coronary artery disease.