People with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy test positive for COVID-19 at the same rate as the general population. However, they are at greater risk of severe illness due to COVID-19.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is a genetic heart disorder. It causes the walls of the heart chambers to thicken, which can restrict blood flow to and from the heart. In some people, this can cause symptoms such as chest pain and shortness of breath.

Those with HCM, as with other cardiovascular diseases, are at risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

COVID-19 is due to a virus known as SARS-CoV-2. It is highly contagious and transmits via respiratory droplets.

COVID-19 can cause severe symptoms and serious complications in some people, including those with HCM.

Learn more about COVID-19 and HCM, how people with HCM are at greater risk, whether HCM can worsen COVID-19 symptoms, and treatment options.

Coronavirus data

All data and statistics are based on publicly available data at the time of publication. Some information may be out of date. Visit our coronavirus hub for the most recent information on COVID-19.

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Every person, regardless of age, is at risk of contracting COVID-19.

Some factors may increase the risk of having severe illness due to COVID-19. Heart disease is one of these factors.

HCM is the most common form of genetic heart disease.

Those with cardiovascular disease, such as HCM, are more likely to experience serious complications from COVID-19. They are at a higher risk of needing hospitalization and also of dying.

Research from 2022 suggests that people with cardiomyopathy have similar rates of testing positive for COVID-19 as those in the general population. However, the same study found they also had higher rates of hospitalization.

Research into COVID-19 in people with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is ongoing.

Individuals with heart disease are more likely to experience severe, rather than mild, symptoms of COVID-19.

Those with cardiomyopathy — particularly those already experiencing symptoms such as breathlessness or fatigue — are at greater risk of becoming seriously unwell if they get COVID-19.

Having an underlying heart disease such as HCM can also increase the risk of death from COVID-19.

A 2022 study of people with COVID-19 and HCM found that compared with the general population, those with HCM had a fourfold higher likelihood of being admitted to the hospital and a threefold increase in mortality rates.

A 2021 study that was the first to examine the clinical effect of COVID-19 in people with HCM found that the disease of HCM itself may not be responsible for worse outcomes from COVID-19.

The study authors suggest that other established risk factors for severe COVID-19 — such as being older and having obesity, which may also be present in people with HCM — may be contributing factors for severe disease.

Not everyone with HCM will contract COVID-19, and data suggests people with the disease acquire the infection at the same rate as members of the general population.

However, there are some connections between HCM and COVID-19.

COVID-19 may worsen symptoms of a person’s already existing cardiovascular disease, such as HCM.

Research also suggests that the COVID-19 pandemic may have had an indirect effect on those living with HCM.

A 2022 study found that one-third of those with COVID-19 and cardiomyopathy reported experiencing a deterioration in their physical health.

Notably, the number of people who reported this decline exceeded those who had acquired the infection. This suggests that the COVID-19 pandemic affected those with HCM even if they had not had the infection.

This may be due to factors such as:

  • disruption of clinical care for HCM due to the pandemic
  • cancellation of appointments and investigations
  • cancellation or postponement of procedures
  • missing medication doses

Half of the people with cardiomyopathy reported feeling that telehealth could not adequately meet their health needs.

Numerous studies have suggested a connection between COVID-19 and cardiovascular problems more broadly. A 2022 study concluded that even those with a mild case of COVID-19 had an increased risk of cardiovascular disease following infection.

COVID-19 can cause a variety of symptoms. These may vary in severity between people.

Those with HCM may experience more severe symptoms of COVID-19.

Symptoms may include:

  • cough
  • fever
  • chills
  • breathing difficulties
  • sore throat
  • headache
  • congestion
  • shortness of breath
  • muscle and body aches
  • diarrhea
  • vomiting
  • nausea
  • loss of taste or smell
  • fatigue

Those who are at risk of severe illness from COVID-19, such as people with HCM, are eligible for treatments that can reduce the chances of hospitalization and death.

It is important that these medications begin within days of symptoms first appearing.

Antiviral medications are available to treat mild to moderate cases of COVID-19 in people more likely to experience severe illness. These treatments work by stopping parts of the COVID-19 virus from multiplying in the body.

Antiviral treatments include:

  • nirmatrelvir and ritonavir (Paxlovid)
  • remdesivir (Veklury)
  • molnupiravir (Lagevrio)

These treatments can have side effects and may interact with some medications.

If a person has HCM and has tested positive for COVID-19, they should contact a healthcare professional right away, even if their symptoms are mild.

Doctors may use other treatment options for people admitted to the hospital with COVID-19.

The best way to help prevent illness and complications from COVID-19 is to avoid infection in the first place.

Taking precautions can help reduce the risk of infection, as well as lower the risk of serious illness or complications.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advise:

  • staying up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations
  • wearing a mask
  • avoiding crowded areas
  • increasing space between yourself and others
  • moving indoor activities with others outdoors
  • improving ventilation in indoor spaces
  • avoiding contact with people who have COVID-19 or potentially have COVID-19

HCM is a genetic disease of the heart. Evidence suggests people with HCM develop COVID-19 at the same rate as the general population. However, people with HCM are at increased risk of severe illness and complications due to COVID-19.

Those with underlying cardiovascular diseases such as HCM are eligible for treatments that reduce the severity of COVID-19-related illness and lower the risk of hospitalization.

Taking precautions such as wearing a mask and keeping up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations lowers the risk of infection and severe illness.