Our Patients

Deadly Heart Condition Yields to Screening and Prompt Treatment

01.01.2010

James Cooper has had to give up the vigorous athletic conditioning that once filled his life, but his enthusiasm for life and his future is undiminished. 

Thank God we found out. I thought of all the families who have no idea, and sudden death is how the realized their son or daughter had this condition.

-Paulette Cooper, mother of patient at Stanford's Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Center

"I felt we were in a a really good place," said Paulette Cooper, James' mother, of Stanford Hospital's HCM clinic. 

Each week, Euan Ashley, MD, sees several new patients coming in for treatment of HCM. 

From the moment we first met Dr. Ashley at Stanford, I felt we were sitting in a room with a doctor who really cared - a really gentle person, a really caring person.

-Paulette Cooper, mother of a patient at Stanford's Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Center

James stays busy with school, work and sings in a church choir with his fiancee, Breanna. 

I've been living with it for a while now. It's not something I dwell on. I'm in a good place now. It's not something I fear.

-James Cooper, patient at Stanford Hospital Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Center
WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT HYPERTROPHIC CARDIOMYOPATHY
  • Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy is a disease of the heart muscle which causes certain areas to enlarge and obstruct blood flow.  Typically, it's inherited and can affect both children and adults.
  • Symptoms don't always appear in the early stages of the disease, but later can include dizziness, shortness of breath, fatigue and swelling of legs, ankles and feet.
  • Treatments include medication to alter how the heart muscle acts, surgery to remove a portion of the thickened heart muscle or implantation of a defibrillator, which starts the heart if it stops.
  • Anyone with a family history of unexplained early cardiac death should think about screening and genetic testing.
  • Euan Ashley, MD, recommends that young athletes be evaluated by a physician before they begin to do sports. Adults with family history of heart issues should see a physician to address their risk factors.  The disease can show itself in adults into their 40s and 50s.
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