Learn About Peripartum Cardiomyopathy

What is the definition of Peripartum Cardiomyopathy?

Peripartum cardiomyopathy is a rare disorder in which a pregnant woman's heart becomes weakened and enlarged. It develops during the last month of pregnancy, or within 5 months after the baby is born.

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What are the alternative names for Peripartum Cardiomyopathy?

Cardiomyopathy - peripartum; Cardiomyopathy - pregnancy

What are the causes of Peripartum Cardiomyopathy?

Cardiomyopathy occurs when there is damage to the heart. As a result, the heart muscle becomes weak and does not pump well. This affects the lungs, liver, and other body systems.

Peripartum cardiomyopathy is a form of dilated cardiomyopathy in which no other cause of heart weakening can be found.

It may occur in childbearing women of any age, but it is most common after age 30.

Risk factors for the condition include:

  • Obesity
  • Personal history of cardiac disorders such as myocarditis
  • Use of certain medicines
  • Smoking
  • Alcoholism
  • Multiple pregnancies
  • Old age
  • Preecclampsia
  • African American descent
  • Poor nourishment
What are the symptoms of Peripartum Cardiomyopathy?

Symptoms may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Feeling of heart racing or skipping beats (palpitations)
  • Increased nighttime urination (nocturia)
  • Shortness of breath with activity and when lying flat
  • Swelling of the ankles
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What are the current treatments for Peripartum Cardiomyopathy?

A woman may need to stay in the hospital until acute symptoms subside.

Because it is very often possible to restore heart function, and the women who have this condition are often young and otherwise healthy, care is often aggressive.

When severe symptoms occur, this may include extreme steps such as:

  • Use of an assistive heart pump (aortic counterpulsation balloon, left ventricular assist device)
  • Immunosuppressive therapy (such as medicines used to treat cancer or prevent rejection of a transplanted organ)
  • Heart transplant if severe congestive heart failure persists

For most women, however, treatment mainly focuses on relieving the symptoms. Some symptoms go away on their own without treatment.

Medicines that are often used include:

  • Digitalis to strengthen the heart's pumping ability
  • Diuretics ("water pills") to remove excess fluid
  • Low-dose beta-blockers
  • Other blood pressure medicines

A low-salt diet may be recommended. Fluid may be restricted in some cases. Activities, including nursing the baby, may be limited when symptoms develop.

Daily weighing may be recommended. A weight gain of 3 to 4 pounds (1.5 to 2 kilograms) or more over 1 or 2 days may be a sign of fluid buildup.

Women who smoke and drink alcohol will be advised to stop, since these habits may make the symptoms worse.

Who are the top Peripartum Cardiomyopathy Local Doctors?
Highly rated in

University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

UPMC Presbyterian

200 Lothrop St 
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Dennis Mcnamara is a Cardiologist in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Dr. Mcnamara has been practicing medicine for over 35 years and is rated as an Elite doctor by MediFind in the treatment of Peripartum Cardiomyopathy. He is also highly rated in 8 other conditions, according to our data. His top areas of expertise are Peripartum Cardiomyopathy, Cardiomyopathy, Heart Failure, and Dilated Cardiomyopathy. He is licensed to treat patients in Pennsylvania. Dr. Mcnamara is currently accepting new patients.

Highly rated in

Bayero University Kano

Kano, KN, NG 

Kamilu Karaye is in Kano, Nigeria. Karaye is rated as an Elite expert by MediFind in the treatment of Peripartum Cardiomyopathy. They are also highly rated in 5 other conditions, according to our data. Their top areas of expertise are Peripartum Cardiomyopathy, Hypertensive Heart Disease, Cardiomyopathy, and Dilated Cardiomyopathy.

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Highly rated in

Los Angeles County Health Services

Los Angeles – USC Healthcare Center 2

1520 San Pablo St 
Los Angeles, CA 90033

Uri Elkayam is a Cardiologist in Los Angeles, California. Dr. Elkayam is rated as an Elite doctor by MediFind in the treatment of Peripartum Cardiomyopathy. He is also highly rated in 3 other conditions, according to our data. His top areas of expertise are Peripartum Cardiomyopathy, Cardiomyopathy, Heart Failure, and Marfan Syndrome. He is licensed to treat patients in California. Dr. Elkayam is currently accepting new patients.

What is the outlook (prognosis) for Peripartum Cardiomyopathy?

There are several possible outcomes in peripartum cardiomyopathy. Some women remain stable for long periods, while others get worse slowly.

Others get worse very quickly and may be candidates for a heart transplant. About 4% of people will require heart transplantation and 9% may die suddenly or die from complications of the procedure.

The outlook is good when a woman's heart returns to normal after the baby is born. If the heart remains abnormal, future pregnancies may result in heart failure. It is not known how to predict who will recover and who will develop severe heart failure. Up to about one half of women will recover completely.

Women who develop peripartum cardiomyopathy are at high risk of developing the same problem with future pregnancies. The rate of recurrence is about 30%. Therefore, women who have had this condition should discuss birth control methods with their provider.

What are the possible complications of Peripartum Cardiomyopathy?

Complications include:

  • Cardiac arrhythmias (can be deadly)
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Clot formation in the heart which can embolize (travel to other parts of the body)
When should I contact a medical professional for Peripartum Cardiomyopathy?

Call your provider if you are currently pregnant or have recently delivered a baby and think you may have signs of cardiomyopathy.

Get medical help right away if you develop chest pain, palpitations, faintness, or other new or unexplained symptoms.

How do I prevent Peripartum Cardiomyopathy?

Eat a well-balanced diet and get regular exercise to help keep your heart strong. Avoid cigarettes and alcohol. Your provider may advise you to avoid getting pregnant again if you have had heart failure during a previous pregnancy.

Heart - section through the middle
Heart - front view
What are the latest Peripartum Cardiomyopathy Clinical Trials?
Randomized Evaluation of Bromocriptine In Myocardial Recovery THerapy for Peripartum Cardiomyopathy (REBIRTH)
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Observational Study for Outcomes for Participants With Cardiogenic Shock and Peripartum Cardiomyopathy
What are the Latest Advances for Peripartum Cardiomyopathy?
Peripartum cardiomyopathy: alluring challenge - case series and review of literature.
A Case of Peripartum Ventricular Tachycardia due to Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia.
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Application of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation in critically ill pregnant women.
Who are the sources who wrote this article ?

Published Date : June 25, 2020
Published By : Micaela Iantorno, MD, MSc, FAHA, RPVI, Interventional Cardiologist at Mary Washington Hospital Center, Fredericksburg, VA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

What are the references for this article ?

Blanchard DG, Daniels LB. Cardiac diseases. In: Resnik R, Lockwood CJ, Moore TR, Greene MF, Copel JA, Silver RM, eds. Creasy and Resnik's Maternal-Fetal Medicine: Principles and Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 52.

McKenna WJ, Elliott PM. Diseases of the myocardium and endocardium. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 54.

Silversides CK, Warnes CA. Pregnancy and heart disease. In: Zipes DP, Libby P, Bonow RO, Mann DL, Tomaselli GF, Braunwald E, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 90.