Peripartum Cardiomyopathy: Seminar

Peripartum cardiomyopathy (PPCM) is a disorder in which initial left ventricular systolic dysfunction and symptoms of heart failure occur between the late stages of pregnancy and the early postpartum period. It is common in some countries and rare in others. The causes and pathogenesis are poorly understood. Molecular markers of an inflammatory process are found in most patients. Clinical presentation includes usual signs and symptoms of heart failure, and unusual presentations relating to thromboembolism. Clinicians should consider PPCM in any peripartum patient with unexplained disease. Conventional heart failure treatment includes use of diuretics, β blockers, and angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors. Effective treatment reduces mortality rates and increases the number of women who fully recover left ventricular systolic function. Outcomes for subsequent pregnancy after PPCM are better in women who have first fully recovered heart function. Areas for future research include immune system dysfunction, the role of viruses, non-conventional treatments such as immunosuppression, immunoadsorption, apheresis, antiviral treatment, suppression of proinflammatory cytokines, and strategies for control and prevention.and Division of Cardiovascular. [Download PDF]

Sliwa K, Fett J and Elkayam U Peripartum cardiomyopathy. Lancet 2006: 19 August