Peripartum cardiomyopathy (PPCM) is characterised by the development of left ventricular (LV) dilatation and dysfunction during the last month of pregnancy, or the first five months of the post-partum period, in the absence of any pre-existing cardiac disease. PPCM is a rare but serious complication of pregnancy, with a variable outcome. Symptoms such as breathlessness and peripheral oedema are common in normal pregnancy and it is easy to misdiagnose PPCM in its early stages. The aetiology of the condition is uncertain.
Treatment options are similar to those for other forms of dilated cardiomyopathy. However, there are important considerations when treating women with PPCM as they may be pregnant or breast feeding. Close communication is required between cardiologists, obstetricians and neonatologists, not only for the treatment of the PPCM patient but also for protection of the baby. Women who decide to continue with further pregnancies should be carefully monitored.
For UK healthcare professionals only