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A Journal on Heart and Vascular Diseases

Official Journal of the Italian Society of Angiology and Vascular Pathology
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Minerva Cardioangiologica 2003 February;51(1):41-8

language: English

Peripartum cardiomyopathy

Ardehali H., Kasper E. K., Baughman K. L.


Peripartum cardiomyopathy is a rare and life-threatening disease of unknown etiology. This diagnosis should be limited to previously healthy women who present with congestive heart failure (CHF) and decreased left ventricular systolic function in the last month of pregnancy or within 5 months after delivery. The diagnosis is not made in the presence of other causes of cardiac dysfunction. Patients who fail to demonstrate improvement within 2 weeks after the onset of symptoms should be evaluated for myocarditis. The type and duration of heart failure treatment is determined by the patient's heart performance at rest and with exertion. Those with normal left ventricular function at rest and with exercise or dobutamine have a good prognosis, and their medical therapy can be tapered off or discontinued over a period of 6-12 months. Patients with normal ventricular function at rest, but abnormal response to exercise should be treated for long periods of time with angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors or b-blockers. Patients who continue to have depressed LV function have a poor prognosis and require treatment with appropriate medications for the rest of their lives. Pharmacological treatment includes ACE inhibitors, b-blocking agents, diuretics, digoxin, and anticoagulation. Angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors are used only after delivery because of their teratogenic effects. Patients who fail to recover may require inotropic therapy, intra-aortic balloon pump and left ventricular assist device as needed. Cardiac transplantation should be considered for patients who fail therapy.

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