Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy sounds like a big scary thing – and it is. The more common name, Sudden Death Syndrome, indicates that it’s one of those things that ‘does what it says on the tin’. Sometimes it’s called Sudden UNEXPECTED Death Syndrome and for good reason – in the vast majority of cases you don’t know you’ve got the problem until it attacks you, by which time it’s too late.
It’s even more unexpected because the sort of guys who fall over and die from it are generally very fit, normally healthy, athletic types. The most high-profile recent example is Bolton footballer Fabrice Muamba (who was incredibly fortunate to survive) but the fact is that HOCM, as it’s also known, kills hundreds of young athletes (mostly male) every year.
There are other heart-related problems and causes of death in young people, but HOCM is the most common affecting 1 in every 500 of the population, men and women, with no particular ethnic bias.