Peripartum cardiomyopathy is a heart-related problem mainly found in pregnant women. In this condition the heart muscles of the patient becomes very weak and it usually occurs either in the last month of pregnancy or in the first five months after delivery. It is a very rare condition and it has minimum or at times no symptoms. One of the prominent symptoms of the problem is known as ejection fraction, it is a medical term defining the amount of blood heart pumps out after every beat. Average percentage of ejection fraction is almost 60 percent.
Peripartum Cardiomyopathy Recovery Time
The interesting aspect is that the severity of the ejection problem does not have any effect on the recovery rate. For instance, a patient suffering from very low percentage of ejection fraction can actually recover from the problem completely. Some patient takes six months or even longer time to recover only a portion of their heart function. On the contrary, in some cases patients may regain full strength of the heart in just few weeks. Dr. Lili Barouch, who is an assistant professor of medicine, said that “In all the types of cardiomyopathy known till date, peripartum cardiomyopathy has the highest recovery rate.” He further added that “A large percentage of women suffering from this problem actually recover completely in due course of time.”
Some of the mild symptoms of peripartum cardiomyopathy include swelling in legs & feet and breathlessness. As these symptoms are somewhat simile to the symptoms that are commonly seen in the last three months of pregnancy, so most of the time they unnoticed. Further, the patient starts to recover on their own without any additional medication or medical help. If the condition is very severe then the severity of swelling on feet and legs becomes very prominent and also the concerned patient starts to be breathless very often. This happens because heart suddenly stops to pump blood then fluid starts to accumulate in the body, especially in the lungs and feet. In this condition, echocardiogram eventually helps in detecting the problem of cardiomyopathy by displaying the suppressed functioning of heart.
As such the actual cause of cardiomyopathy is not known, but some of the causes that can eventually lead to this heart problem are as follows:
- Coronary artery disease
- Excess intake of alcohol
- Regular smoking
- Viral infection in heart
- Obesity (over weight)
- Some inherited problem
In any of the above mentioned cases, the treatment type mainly focuses on the root cause of the problem.
The approach for treating peripartum cardiomyopathy is to prevent accumulation of extra fluid in the lungs and also to facilitate fast recovery. There are various medication prescribed by doctor for treating the symptoms of the problem. Some of these medications include:
Angiotensin Converting Enzyme i.e. ACE Inhibitors – This enables heart to strengthen the heart and facilitate to function more efficiently.
Diuretics – It helps in preventing or drastically reducing the accumulation of fluid in the body.
Beta Blockers – This significantly reduces the heartbeat rate, which in turn increases the chances of recovery in patients.
For patients who are breastfeeding, for them each of the above type of medication has a safe class of medications, which is safe for both mother and the child. It is very important that patients should clearly tell the doctor about their health condition and also whether they are breast feeding their baby or not.
One very common question ask by patients suffering from Peripartum cardiomyopathy is whether they can plan more children or not? Answer this question depends on the recovery period of the patient. In simple words, we can say patients can plan another baby only when they have completely recovered from the existing problem. Keeping proper age difference between two children will also maintaining good health of both mother as well as the child.
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