What Causes Peripartum Cardiomyopathy?

Called as a rare type of heart failure, Peripartum cardiomyopathy occurs in women, especially during pregnancy or after the delivery. Peripartum cardiomyopathy reduces the strength of the heart muscles causing enlargement of the heart. Due to this, the heart fails to pump the needed blood required by the body.

Around 1300 people suffer from Peripartum cardiomyopathy each year in the United States alone. The patients receive a diagnosis during the last month of the pregnancy or within the next 5 months after delivery.

What Causes Peripartum Cardiomyopathy?

It is common for the heart to pump function harder to deliver 50% more of the blood during pregnancy. It is because of the growing baby that requires nutrients and oxygen. There is no specific cause for the appearance of Peripartum cardiomyopathy. Nonetheless, doctors understand that the condition appears as a result of combination with other risk factors. The combination places the individual under stress making it difficult during the delivery.

The chances of increasing the risk for peripartum cardiomyopathy are high in people who possess:

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Malnutrition
  • Alcoholism
  • Smoking
  • Multiple pregnancies
  • Premature delivery medications
  • African-American descent
  • Being above the age of 30.

Understanding the Symptoms of Peripartum Cardiomyopathy

Gaining insight into the symptoms of Peripartum cardiomyopathy will be helpful for any woman during her pregnancy period to test for the same. The symptoms are similar to that of heart failure, which includes:

  • Excessive fatigue
  • Chest pain
  • Increased the palpitations
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tiredness when participated in a physical activity
  • Swelling of legs, ankles, and feet
  • Increased urination

Diagnosing the Condition

Diagnosing the condition involves physical examination, where the doctor uses the stethoscope to listen to the abnormal sounds produced in the heart and the crackling noises in the lungs. The doctor will also test for blood pressure. It is natural to have a lower value during this period and drops significantly when the individual stands up.

A variety of imaging tests are also helpful in assessing the condition of the heart. These tests provide details related to the rate of blood flow. A few tests help in revealing any lung damage. Tests include:

The Treatment Options

Treating an individual diagnosed with Peripartum cardiomyopathy requires them to remain in the hospital till the circumstances are under control. The treatment choices vary depending on the severity of the condition and the symptoms displayed by the individual. Heart damage caused due to Peripartum cardiomyopathy is irreversible. However, it is still possible for the heart to function regularly for a long time, which again is dependent on the damage caused. The severity will also help the doctor to understand whether the patient requires a heart transplant or not.

The scenario is favorable for those where the heart size returns to standard size after delivery. Such occurrences are between 30 and 40% of the cases. Overall, at least 4% required heart transplant and 9% die during heart transplant procedure. Also, doctors further prescribe the use of medicines such as beta-blockers, diuretics, and digitalis.

Apart from this, women diagnosed with the condition have to follow a particular diet consisting of low-salt intake to control the blood pressure. There should also avoid tobacco and alcohol altogether. It is possible for the condition to affect the overall health for the rest of the life even after providing a successful treatment.

Conclusion

As stated above in the article, a variety of risk factors or causes are responsible for developing Peripartum cardiomyopathy. By gaining insight into the symptoms, finding a treatment at the earliest will be helpful in reducing the chances of developing the condition. A few patients show positive sign after delivery while for others the disease continues to worsen.

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