On rare occasions pregnancy can lead to peripartum cardiomyopathy, a type of pregnancy-related heart failure once called postpartum cardiomyopathy. Women can develop the condition in the last month of pregnancy or within five months of delivering a baby.
For these women, this type of heart failure can be temporary, or can progress to severe, life-threatening heart failure that requires a heart device to support their weakened heart muscle.
While peripartum cardiomyopathy is rare (occurring in 1 of every 2,500 to 4,000 pregnancies which translates to about 1,000 to 1,300 cases in the U.S. each year), some women are at higher risk than others. It is more common among women who are older, African American, carrying multiples, or who have high blood pressure or preeclampsia.
The cause of peripartum cardiomyopathy is not well understood, but active research is underway to learn more. Early diagnosis improves women’s outlook for recovery. Continue reading