#29 Postpartum Cardiomyopathy

During your pregnancy, it’s only natural that to be concerned about possible complications. In your research, you will probably come across pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes. A less well-known complication is postpartum cardiomyopathy ((PPCM).

What Is Postpartum Cardiomyopathy?

PPCM is heart failure that occurs in the last month of pregnancy or up until five months postpartum. It is a congestive heart failure in which your heart increases in size and becomes weak. Due to this, your heart can’t pump as much blood as usual, and it makes it harder for oxygen to get to your organs.

After you are diagnosed, there is a big chance that you will recover your heart function. Most women who experienced PPCM can recover normal heart function in a few months. However, if you have plans to get pregnant again, your doctor might discourage you since pregnancy does put a lot of strain on your heart and might put your heart at risk.

Who Can Develop Postpartum Cardiomyopathy?

Much about PPCM is largely unknown. There is no known cause for PPCM. We only know that there are risk factors that affect your chances of developing the condition.

Having histories of previous complications like hypertension, preeclampsia, anemia, autoimmune diseases and asthma might increase your risk for PPCM. Being over the age of 30 and being pregnant with multiple babies adds to it, too.

How Do You Treat Postpartum Cardiomyopathy?

Treatment for PPCM is available. This usually involves keeping extra liquid from collecting in your lungs and helping your heart recover from the strain.

Doctors can prescribe medication, and these are mostly safe for women who are breastfeeding. Digitalis, beta-blockers, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and diuretics are recommended to help your heart pump blood more efficiently.

What Are the Symptoms of Postpartum Cardiomyopathy?

The symptoms connected to PPCM are aligned with most symptoms of heart failure. These symptoms are also things you might experience due to your pregnancy, but it would feel worse than usual.

Symptoms of PPCM include:

  • Cough
  • Swelling
  • Tachycardia or fast heart rate
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty in exercising or being active.

When Do I Call My Doctor?

 When you experience any of the symptoms listed above, it is best to contact your doctor and get yourself checked. You might think that it could just be a normal pregnancy complication, but it is better safe than sorry — especially for the last few months of your pregnancy.

For more information about PPCM, please watch my podcast on PPCM with Neil Haley. Or read about PPCM with my printable from Etsy about PPCM.