Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is a complex, hereditary heart disease that exacts a major toll on patients and their families. The disease can cause sudden death, often requires demanding treatment regimens and is often difficult to treat. Only a few centers in the United States specialize in such care.
“To be recognized as an HCMA Center of Excellence, you must meet very high standards,”says Libin Wang, BM, MM, PhD, assistant professor of medicine at UMSOM, cardiologist at UMMC and co-director of the HCM program. “The standards include a patient-centered approach, multi-disciplinary strategies, leadership in the field in all aspects – imaging, procedures, surgery – and a wide range of ancillary support that is sustainable and supported by the hospital.”
This entails a major commitment, says Dr. Wang. “An HCMA Recognized Center of Excellence provides patients a reliable resource to seek long-term help, not just to the patient alone, but also to their families.”
The HCMA provides HCM-related support, advocacy and education to patients, families, the medical community and the public, and sets basic criteria for Centers of Excellence.
HCM treatments include medications to relieve symptoms and improve the heart’s pumping ability, implantation of devices to correct cardiac electrical problems, surgical procedures that improve blood flow out of the heart, cardiac valve repair or replacement, and heart transplantation.
Research is a key part of the program’s work: UMSOM faculty are currently participating in two national studies of a medication to treat HCM, and are also developing a patient database for future genetic and translational research projects.
HCMA Recognized Centers of Excellence are required to provide the following services:
Cardiologist as director of the program
Electrophysiology services, including implantation of cardiac devices
Pediatric and adult cardiac surgery
Advanced heart failure and cardiac transplantation
Diet and nutrition services
High quality imaging
Commitment to HCM research
Ability to see families and accommodate those traveling from a distance.
HCM is characterized by genetic mutations that cause thickened heart muscle, impairing blood flow. Symptoms vary, ranging from shortness of breath, chest pain and fatigue to fainting and sudden death. In some cases, people with HCM have no symptoms. In others, patients develop a heart valve disease or problems with the heart’s electrical system. HCM may be detected at birth, or may not appear until adulthood. The prevalence of HCM in the general population is about one in 300.
“HCM is a very difficult disease to treat. The entire University of Maryland hypertrophic cardiomyopathy team has worked hard to attain the highest level of expertise in this area,” says E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, executive vice president for medical affairs at the University of Maryland, the John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor and dean of the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “This formal recognition from the Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Association highlights our continuing efforts, which have already resulted in attracting internationally recognized experts in HCM to UMMC and UMSOM.”
About the University of Maryland Medical Center
The University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) is comprised of two hospitals in Baltimore: an 800-bed teaching hospital Downtown – the flagship institution of the 14-hospital University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS) – and a 200-bed community teaching hospital, UMMC Midtown Campus. UMMC is a national and regional referral center for trauma, cancer care, neurocare, cardiac care, diabetes and endocrinology, women’s and children’s health. All physicians on staff at the Downtown flagship hospital are faculty physicians of the University of Maryland School of Medicine. At UMMC Midtown Campus, faculty physicians work alongside community physicians to provide patients with the highest quality care. UMMC Midtown Campus was founded in 1881 and is located one mile away from the Downtown Campus. For more information, visit umm.edu
About the University of Maryland School of Medicine
Commemorating its 210th Anniversary, the University of Maryland School of Medicine was chartered in 1807 as the first public medical school in the United States. It continues today as one of the fastest growing, top-tier biomedical research enterprises in the world -- with 43 academic departments, centers, institutes, and programs; and a faculty of more than 3,000 physicians, scientists, and allied health professionals, including members of the National Academy of Sciences, and a distinguished recipient of the Albert E. Lasker Award in Medical Research. With an operating budget of more than $1 billion, the School of Medicine works closely in partnership with the University of Maryland Medical Center and Medical System to provide research-intensive, academic and clinically-based care for more than 1.2 million patients each year. The School has over 2,500 students, residents, and fellows, and nearly $450 million in extramural funding, with more than half of its academic departments ranked in the top 20 among all public medical schools in the nation in research funding. As one of the seven professional schools that make up the University of Maryland, Baltimore campus, the School of Medicine has a total workforce of nearly 7,000 individuals. The combined School and Medical System (“University of Maryland Medicine”) has a total budget of $5 billion and an economic impact of nearly $15 billion on the state and local community. The School of Medicine faculty, which ranks as the 8th-highest public medical school in research productivity, is an innovator in translational medicine with 600 active patents and 24 start-up companies. The School works locally, nationally, and globally, with research and treatment facilities in 36 countries around the world. Visit medschool.umaryland.edu
About the Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Association
The HCMA, founded in 1996, is a 501(c) (3) organization operating out of Denville, NJ. Over the past 22 years, the HCMA has provided service through their phone-in system to over 9,000 HCM families, representing more than 40,000 affected, or potentially affected, individuals with HCM. The HCMA provides education, advocacy, and support for the millions of patients worldwide with HCM. The HCMA’s Center of Excellence Program currently recognizes 33 programs in the United States, and has collaborative arrangements worldwide with researchers and clinicians. For more information, visit 4hcm.org
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In a moving address to an audience of family members, UMSOM faculty and staff, and distinguished invited guests, Charles Hong, MD, PhD, echoed a theme that was heard throughout the ceremony of his investiture as the Melvin Sharoky, MD, Professor of Medicine: “Courage, Hope and Faith.”