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Peripartum cardiomyopathy: An ominous diagnosis

      Abstract

      OBJECTIVE: Our purpose was to review and characterize the initial presentation, etiology, and prognosis of peripartum cardiomyopathy. STUDY DESIGN: Cases of peripartum cardiomyopathy confirmed by echocardiography were prospectively collected between 1986 and 1994. RESULTS: A total of 28 patients without an antecedent history of heart disease were diagnosed with peripartum cardiomyopathy. Common associated disorders included preeclampsia or chronic hypertension (19), alcohol abuse (2), family history (2), and multiple tocolytic therapy (2). Five deaths occurred (18% mortality), 3 patients received heart transplants (11%), 18 continued with cardiac impairment (64%), and only 2 patients (7%) had regression of cardiomyopathy. The perinatal mortality rate was 36 per 1000 births. Six patients had seven subsequent pregnancies; 4 patients decompensated earlier in the subsequent pregnancy, 1 patient remained well compensated on medical therapy in spite of poor systolic function and a dilated left ventricle, and 1 patient had two subsequent pregnancies without recurrence of cardiac compromise. CONCLUSION: The unique hemodynamic stresses of pregnancy unmask previously undiagnosed cardiomyopathy in otherwise medically stable individuals. The prognosis for these patients is guarded. (Am J Obstet Gynecol 1997;176:182-8.)

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