Post-Partum (or peripartum) cardiomyopathy is a relatively rare form of heart failure that affects women during or following pregnancy. Establishing a diagnosis requires 1. The absence of a determinable cause for cardiac failure, 2. Absence of preexisting heart muscle disease, and 3. Time limitations of onset of illness from the last month of pregnancy to the first 5 post-partum months. Peripartum cardiomyopathy complicates 1 of 1300 to 4000 deliveries in the United States. This condition may affect women of any race, age, or number of prior deliveries; however, older, multigravida, African American and twin pregnancies are thought to represent predisposing features. The cause is unknown.
The treatment is standard heart failure medication (diuretics, digoxin, ACE inhibitors) and in severe cases heart transplant. Approximately half of patients with this diagnosis will return to normal within 6 months. Of those who do not return to normal the prognosis is poor with an average survival of 4.7 years after diagnosis (without heart transplant). Repeat pregnancies are not recommended for women who have had peripartum cardiomyopathy. You can find additional information in the following articles. (your local medical library should be able to help you find these).
Lampert, MB Lang RM. Peripartum cardiomyopathy. Am Heart J 1995; 130:860-870.
Huerta EM, Erice A, Espino RF, et al. Postpartum cardiomyopathy and acute myocarditis. Am Heart J 1985; 110:1079-1081.
Don't give up hope even if recovery is not back to normal within the 6 month period. I also developed Cardiomyopathy after my first pregnancy. When it was first discovered my EF was at 20%, it went up to 40% after going on meds. It stayed at 40% for two years and then went up to 60% (normal). The doctors told me that after a year at 40% it would most likely not improve. Thank God they were wrong!!!
I also had postpartum cardiomyopathy 5 years ago and I have gone on to make a full recovery but I have been advised not to have any more children.Does anybody know if this type of cardiomyopathy is hereditary?