Postpartum cardiomyopathy is characterized as a pregnancy-associated heart failure. We know the meaning behind the word about postpartum. It means “following childbirth or the birth of young.” On the other hand, cardiomyopathymeans heart muscle weakness.
Pregnant women who developed this condition usually experience the start of heart failure within the five months of delivering a baby or during the last month of their pregnancy. As analyzed, these women did not have underlying heart disease prior to the condition. However, postpartum cardiomyopathy can be temporary, a self-limited one, progressive or life-threatening.
As of today, the cause of postpartum cardiomyopathy is yet to be explored. Although, experts saw that the inflammation of the heart muscle, also known as myocarditis, plays a vital role on this condition. Others speculate if the fetal cells that sometimes escape leading to the mother’s blood stream lead an immune reaction causing myocarditis. Genetic predisposition is one fact that is not eliminated for this matter.
While the condition is rare, having affected 1 woman out of 4,000, some women are found to have higher risk than the others. These women are either or have some of the following indications:
- 30+ years old
- of African descent
- having delivered a baby (or babies) before
- pregnancy with multiple fetuses
- history of preeclampsia or postpartum hypertension
- those who experienced cocaine abuse
The symptoms of having postpartum cardiomyopathy are relatively close to those which experience heart failure. Patients are treated similarly to any form with dilated cardiomyopathy but of course, there are few exceptions.
Unfortunately, once a woman had the condition, she should be advised not to become pregnant again. This is due to the fact that risks are pretty high and this includes permanent or severe cardiac damage.