The Solution to Overlooking a Dangerous Heart Condition


WASHINGTON, D.C. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – Dilated cardiomyopathy, or DCM, is an enlargement of the heart, leading to heart failure. Genetics has been proven to play a huge role, according to a new MedStar study led by a doctor who strongly recommends genetic testing. Heart condition

DCM enlarges the heart, preventing it from pumping enough blood, and a recent study indicated dozens of inherited genes are the cause.

“The vast majority of people with idiopathic cardiomyopathy never get genetic counseling,” says Heart Failure Specialist at the MedStar Washington Hospital Center, Mark Hofmeyer, MD.

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MedStar Heart and Vascular Institute’s recent five-year dilated cardiomyopathy study revealed first-line family connection genetic mutations are behind DCM.

Dr. Hofmeyer explains, “It’s critically important that people get screened upfront to avoid progression of disease to severe forms, or dying suddenly.”

He also warns against brushing off tell-tale symptoms of DCM, which are shortness of breath, leg swelling and fatigue.

“Many times, they feel, ‘This is just associated with aging,’ that, ‘I’m feeling more tired,’ that, ‘I don’t have the energy I had before.’,” Dr. Hofmeyer adds.

Screening leads to earlier diagnosis, making treatment with medicine possible.

Dr. Hofmeyer urges, “Getting screening – and not only screening, but recurrent screening – is really the key.”

This study is the first to show rare variant genetics associated with DCM and Dr. Hofmeyer hopes it will provide insight for providers to better manage the care of patients.

Contributors to this news report include: Donna Parker, Producer; Kirk Manson, Videographer; Sharon Dennis, Editor.

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BACKGROUND: Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a condition characterized by the enlargement and weakening of the heart’s left ventricle, which is responsible for pumping blood to the body. As the ventricle becomes dilated, its ability to pump blood efficiently decreases, leading to symptoms of heart failure. One out of 500 Americans get dilated cardiomyopathy every year, according to the CDC. Typical causes of DCM include: autoimmune diseases, complications during or after pregnancy, diabetes, high blood pressure, and thyroid disease. Heart condition


DIAGNOSING: Symptoms of dilated cardiomyopathy include, but are not limited to: chest pain, fatigue, palpitations, heart murmur, difficulty breathing, and/or swollen legs, ankles, or belly. Doctors can usually diagnose dilated cardiomyopathy with a physical exam or by taking a look at your medical history, blood tests, cardiac catheterization, an ECG, and electrophysiology study, genetic testing, a Holter monitor, CT scans, MRIs, and/or stress tests. Typical treatment for dilated cardiomyopathy can include Beta blockers, blood thinners, ACE inhibitors, or diuretics.


NEW TECHNOLOGY: MedStar Washington Hospital Center is paving the way for diagnosing dilated cardiomyopathy with genetic testing. According to the lead researcher, Mark Hofmeyer, MD, Heart Failure Specialist at MedStar Washington Hospital, “For years, we have known that dilated cardiomyopathy runs in families, but genetic testing is rarely performed on patients who had received heart transplants or LVADs. These study results validate the concept that routine genetic testing performed on these patients allows us to identify their family members who may be at risk of developing DCM and when early signs of disease do appear, we can begin earlier treatment in those family members, perhaps ultimately avoiding the need for either heart transplantation or mechanical circulatory support.”



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Doctor Q and A

Read the entire Doctor Q&A for Mark Hofmeyer, MD, Heart Failure Specialist

Read the entire Q&A