Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is a heart muscle disease with an obscure aetiology. Data from four generations of a large family (71 members) are presented. The occurrence of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy among members of the two oldest generations was compatible with a pattern of autosomal dominant inheritance. Seven out of 14 siblings in the second generation had definite signs of or were clinically suspected of having hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. The severity and distribution of left ventricular hypertrophy varied, but three (21%) brothers in generation II showed the classic picture of left ventricular outflow obstruction. Four siblings (29%) died suddenly aged 11, 22, 38, and 40 years. A high incidence of the disease would have been expected in the two younger generations (41 members, aged 1-31 years), but only two, a 16 year old boy and a 17 year old girl had signs of asymmetric septal hypertrophy. Current diagnostic procedures, including M mode and cross sectional echocardiography, are not sufficiently sensitive to identify young family members who may have preclinical hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. No evidence for close genetic linkage between a postulated locus for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and the major histocompatibility complex (antigens HLA-A, HLA-B, and HLA-DR) was found.
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