Differences in presentation and natural history of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HC) between community cardiology practice and referral centers has been a source of considerable uncertainty. We report here a cross-sectional analysis of 253 consecutive HC patients from a “real-world” clinical cardiology setting. When compared with a highly selected referral center cohort, patients in clinical practice proved to be similar with regard to disease expression such as left ventricular (LV) wall thickness, outflow obstruction, and natural history, including stable and largely benign clinical course with no or mild symptoms (61% in community practice vs. 55% in referred patients, p = 0.23), occurrence of atrial fibrillation (22% vs. 24%, p = 0.75) and nonfatal sudden death (SD) events (3% vs. 4%, p = 0.8). In contrast, progressive heart failure symptoms were most common in the referral cohort (36% vs. 26%, p = 0.04). In clinical practice, SD was prevented by prophylactic implatable cardioverter defibrillators (ICD) in 5 of 44 patients (11%), although risk was overestimated in 6 patients who were implanted with ICDs in the absence of risk markers (14%). In 16 of 61 (26%) severely symptomatic drug-refractory patients with LV outflow obstruction, recommendation for surgical myectomy (or alcohol septal ablation) was delayed. In conclusion, clinical characteristics and course of HC patients in community practice were generally similar to those in HC referral centers. Community cardiologists managed HC patients predominantly in concert with guideline-based strategies, although risk for SD could be overestimated, and the significance of outflow obstruction with timely reversal of refractory heart failure by intervention was underappreciated.
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