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Pregnancy Induced Heart Failure – Peripartum Cardiomyopathy

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About Peripartum Cardiomyopathy

Peripartum cardiomyopathy is a rare type of heart failure that indicates weakness of the heart muscle which normally occurs during late pregnancy or immediately after delivery. Although it occurs most commonly right after delivery. It is a rare condition that can carry mild or severe symptoms.

Because of heart muscle weakness, the heart is unable to properly pump blood to the rest of the body. Some patients recover only a portion of their heart function over months, while others recover completely in as little as two to three weeks.

Causes of Peripartum Cardiomyopathy

The cause of this pregnancy-induced heart failure is unknown. In some cases, heart biopsies reveal that women have inflammation in the heart muscle. The cause could be a previous viral infection or an abnormal immune response.

As a result, there is no conclusive cause of peripartum cardiomyopathy. Other potential causes include poor nutrition, weakened antioxidant defenses, coronary artery spasm, and small-vessel disease. Genetics may also play an important role. Specialists believe that this condition develops when there is additional stress on the heart as a result of extra blood pumping combined with other risk factors.

Related: “When Does the Cervix Open in Pregnancy

Diagnosis for Peripartum Cardiomyopathy

In a case of severe cardiomyopathy, a patient experiences acute shortness of breath and has swollen feet after delivery. Fluid can accumulate in the body when the heart doesn’t pump well, most noticeably in the lungs and the feet. An echocardiogram can detect cardiomyopathy by showing the diminished functioning of the heart.

Whereas in a mild case of peripartum cardiomyopathy, visible symptoms such as swelling in the feet and legs and mild shortness of breath can be similar to those of a typical pregnancy’s third trimester, these symptoms may go undiagnosed. without medical attention, the patient may recover.

Explained below is what to look out for when you suspect peripartum cardiomyopathy and are headed to the doctors for an examination:

Your symptoms will be reviewed by your doctor, and a physical examination will be performed. A stethoscope may be used to assist the doctor in listening for crackling noises in the lungs and abnormal sounds in the heart. Your blood pressure will also be measured by your doctor. It could be lower than usual.

Diagnosis for Peripartum Cardiomyopathy

A variety of imaging tests can measure your heart. These tests also determine the rate of blood flow. Some of these imaging tests can also view potential lung damage. These tests may include:

  • X-ray of the entire chest
  • CT scan for detailed pictures of the heart
  • Nuclear heart scan to show heart chambers
  • Sound waves to create moving pictures of the heart (echocardiogram)

In addition, the medical history of the patient could be used to determine her status, which has to do with a ‘record of existing heart condition’.

Therefore, a patient may be diagnosed with peripartum cardiomyopathy when:

  • The heart is found to be enlarged;
  • Symptoms of heart failure are seen
  • There is retention of fluid especially in the lungs

Symptoms of Peripartum Cardiomyopathy

Symptoms may include;

  • Fatigue
  • Feeling of heart racing or skipping beats (palpitations).
  • Increased urination at night (nocturia).
  • Shortness of breath especially when lying down flat or engaging in certain activities.
  • Swelling of the ankles and feet.
  • Swollen neck veins.
  • Low blood pressure.

Read About: “Preeclampsia

Treatment of Peripartum Cardiomyopathy

The goal of treating peripartum cardiomyopathy is to prevent extra fluid accumulation in the lungs while also ensuring that the heart is stabilized and on its way to full recovery.

A physician can prescribe a variety of medications to treat symptoms. Among these medications are:

  • ACE inhibitors; After delivery, ACE inhibitors (angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors) may be given to relax the smooth muscle surrounding the blood vessels, reduce the workload on the heart, and reduce blood volume, making it easier for the heart to work. This allows the heart to work more efficiently with the strength it has. Unfortunately, an ACE inhibitor-treated mother will be unable to breastfeed her child.
  • Beta-blockers: This treatment involves slowing down the rate at which the heart beats in order to give the heart a better chance of recovering.
  • Diuretics: (Also known as water tablet) this encourages the kidneys to excrete water as urine, which helps to reduce fluid buildup on the lungs or ankles.

Risk Factors

This type of heart failure has since been reported across a wide range of age groups. Risk factors include:

  • Multiple pregnancies
  • Obesity.
  • History of cardiac disorders, such as myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle)
  • Use of certain medications.
  • Preeclampsia
  • Smoking.
  • Alcoholism
  • African-American descent.
  • Poor nourishment.

Related: “Facial Massage Before Sleep – Why You Must

Preventive Measures Against Peripartum Cardiomyopathy

To keep your heart healthy, eat a well-balanced diet and exercise on a regular basis. If you had heart failure during a previous pregnancy, your doctor will most likely advise you to avoid becoming pregnant again. Furthermore, it is generally recommended that everyone avoid cigarettes and alcohol in order to maintain a strong and healthy heart.

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