Joe and Belinda Caruso learnt about hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in the most tragic way possible – with the death of their son Joshua. Josh was an ordinary 13 year old, involved in sports and popular with his friends. His family were completely unaware that Josh had the condition until his heart stopped on his way to school.
Although the condition is common, very few people know about HCM, making treatment and prevention extremely difficult. Many people with the disease are completely unaware of it and therefore unable to minimise the risks.
HCM is genetic – it’s caused by a faulty gene that is passed down from generation to generation. This means that if one person in the family is affected, it’s likely that others will be too. After Josh’s death, his parents discovered that their eldest son Nicholas also has the condition. Bayley, their youngest son, is at risk of developing it.
By establishing the Joshua Caruso Foundation, Joe and Belinda hope to prevent other parents experiencing a similar tragedy to the one they suffered. There is no known cure for HCM, but treatment is available. Testing can identify the disease and a range of treatments – including a rapid response with a defibrillator – can drastically reduce the chances of sudden death for those with HCM.
What is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy?
It is the most common cause of heart-related sudden death in young people.
It affects 1 in 500 people.
You or someone you know could be at risk.
Despite all this, you’ve probably never heard of it.
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is a genetic heart condition. It causes the muscles in the heart to thicken, impacting on the hearts ability to do its job. The disease usually affects the muscular walls on the left side of the heart – the side which pumps oxygenated blood from the lungs into our body. The walls of the heart in a person with HCM can be more than twice as thick as those in a healthy human heart. This thickening makes it difficult for the heart to work at its full potential. HCM can cause pain, palpitations and, most tragically, it can even lead to sudden death. While people of all ages live with the condition, it is most often fatal in children and teenagers.