Peripartum Cardiomyopathy Lessons from Africa

1 min read

Mayo Clinic cardiologists Bernard Gersh, M.B., Ch.B., D.Phil., and Lori Blauwet, M.D., discuss peripartum cardiomyopathy and Dr. Blauwet's research into its prevalence among African women.  This is an informative video that discusses current research into Peripartum Cardiomyopathy in Africa and how the research in Africa relates to the experience in the US.

Key points:

Peripartum Cardiomyopathy has a number of risk factors but none of these risk factors have been validated through research. Some risk factors include, being of African descent, very young, very old, multiparous, high gravidity, hypertension in pregnancy, preclampsia in pregnancy.

Peripartum Cardiomyopathy is very common in Africa, and the presentation is different in that it is generally diagnosed post partum. Whereas in the US, women are diagnosed during pregnancy. Hypertension is more common in Africa, however many women who present with peripartum cardiomyopathy are not hypertensive.

Women with hypertension in pregnancy who develop Peripartum Cardiomyopathy tend to have better and faster recovery of left ventricle function.

Roughly 25%-50% of women recover full left ventricle function within 6 months but longer term studies show women recovering up to 9 years post diagnosis.

Studies on Peripartum Cardiomyopathy are small in size and therefore we cannot draw answers from such small studies. New registry to be set up to follow patients longer term and also to focus on patients with subsequent pregnancy. Of the six patients followed by Lori Blauwet, M.D, none of the patients relapsed in their subsequent pregnancy.

Lori Blauwet, M.D says that peripartum cardiomyopathy is much more common than what we think it is and that the diagnosis commonly gets missed and that there is a lack of awareness about peripartum cardiomyopathy. As a results, missed diagnosis leads to significant morbidity and mortality of women, and if the women get pregnant again, the risks are even higher.

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