Peripartum Cardiomyopathy

Peripartum Cardiomyopathy

A rare form of cardiomyopathy (heart enlargement and failure) that develops near the end of pregnancy and lasts into the early post partum. Symptoms of Peripartum Cardiomyopathy include:

  • Rapid weight gain
  • Marked Swelling
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest heaviness
  • Cough
  • Rapid heart beat
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Disorientation
  • Fatigue

If symptoms resolve significantly by 2 weeks post partum, the prognosis is quite good. If there is no significant resolution in symptoms by 2 weeks post partum, it is likely that there is irreversible damage to the heart.

The disorder is primarily managed by immediate delivery of the baby in addition to medications to draw off the excess fluids (diuretics), lower blood pressure, increase the contractility of the heart muscles and to reduce the amount of fluid that the heart has to pump (preload and afterload reduction). Because women with peripartum cardiomyopathy are at increased risk of thromboembolism (clot formation and subsequent migration) many women must be on blood thinners-at least for a time until their condition is stabilized.

In severe cases of peripartum cardiomyopathy, women are at risk of sudden cardiac death so automatic implantable cardiac defibrillators (AICD’s) have to be placed.  Other women have sustained such damage to their hearts that the only viable option is a heart transplant.

Resources:

A Mother’s Heart– A peripartum cardiomyopathy support network.

Peripartum Cardiomyopathy Survivors! Facebook page

When Mama’s Heart is too big: Peripartum Cardiomyopathy

Peripartum Cardiomyopathy: Brenda Torigiani’s Story