CLEVELAND — Wednesday is Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy(HCM) Awareness day, a type of heart disease recognized during American Heart Month.
HCM is a heart condition where the heart muscle wall thickens and stiffens, making it harder to pump oxygenated blood through the body.
It can be a debilitating and life-changing disease, so an early diagnosis is key.
Growing up in Lakewood, Lindsay Davis had dreams of being a ballet dancer. When she was 17 years old she started having common symptoms of an underlying heart condition.
“I was going to competitions all around the United States. I was over fatigued. I couldn't get my heart to calm down. I was fainting in class,” Davis said. “I collapsed in the hallway, and I was taken to the Cleveland Clinic.”
She was diagnosed with HCM, which is the most common inherited heart disease. Approximately one in every 200-500 people is impacted by HCM.
“Being told with this diagnosis that I was unable to dance anymore, I had to pivot,” Davis said. “I felt really lucky that I was able to have my heart condition diagnosed and go on and live this full life.”
HCM can also be misdiagnosed because symptoms are also like other conditions. Davis is fortunate to be a survivor and now is spreading the message of awareness to help others.
“The most important thing that I can stress is just knowing the symptoms and knowing that this is a disease that doesn't just impact old people,” Davis said. “The symptoms can be quite ambiguous like they're fainting, there's overexertion, there's racing heart, which is very similar to if you're having a very strenuous exercise regimen.”
Davis has inspired Lindsay’s Law, passed in Ohio in 2017, which requires students, parents and coaches to learn about the signs and symptoms of sudden cardiac arrest. It also educates them on how to act fast with CPR or defibrillators.
“We educate coaches, teachers and parents on the signs and symptoms of an underlying heart condition. And should any of the students exhibit these symptoms, they're removed from play until they're able to be cleared by a doctor,” Davis said.
Student-athletes also must fill out a form and get permission from a doctor if there is a family of heart disease. Her story highlights the importance of keeping up with routine doctor’s visits and screenings and speaking up when you feel something isn’t right.
“Seventy-two percent of people that were passing away from sudden cardiac arrest were experiencing symptoms that they were reporting to the people around them, and no one was attributing it to a heart disease,” Davis said.
For more information on HCM, you can visit the link here.
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