With hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) being a recognised cause of sudden cardiac death in young competitive athletes, international consensus recommends against competitive sports participation for all individuals with HCM. However, findings from a new study published in JAMA and presented as a late-breaking clinical trial at the American College of Cardiology’s Annual Scientific Sessions, suggest moderate-intensity exercise is safe and even beneficial in HCM patients.
In a study of 136 patients with HCM, moderate-intensity exercise training was associated with a statistically significant increase in exercise capacity versus usual activity at 16 weeks, with no incident of sustained ventricular arrhythmia, sudden cardiac arrest, need for defibrillator shock, or death in either group. Participants began the study working out three times each week for 20 minutes. By the end of the programme, they were working out four to seven times per week for up to an hour.
While the long-term safety of exercise in the HCM population remains to be established, the authors of this study say the results are an important first step. “We are challenging the idea that exercise is dangerous for these patients,” says senior author Dr. Sharlene Day, a Michigan Medicine cardiologist and associate professor. “And we show that it can actually be beneficial.”