Natural Course of Peripartum Cardiomyopathy
Twenty-seven patients presented in the puerperium with cardiomegaly, abnormal `ECG, and congestive cardiac failure and were considered to have peripartum cardiomyopathy (PPCM). The incidence of PPCM was significantly higher in women over 30 years of age, in women in their third or subsequent pregnancy, and in the presence of twins or toxemia. Within 6 months, 14 patients had normal sized hearts (group A), and 13 patients maintained cardiomegaly (group B).
The 14 patients in group A have been followed for 3 to 21 years (average 10.7 years). Two have died of unrelated causes. Of the remaining 12, eight are functional class I and four are functional class II. Eight patients had 21 subsequent pregnancies, with no permanent deterioration of cardiac function. Of 13 patients in group B, 11 (85%) have died of congestive cardiac failure. Their average survival was 4.7 years; six of 11 were dead in 3 years. Their clinical course was punctuated by repeated admissions for congestive cardiac failure. Six had pulmonary emboli, one had a systemic embolus, and three of six patients with subsequent pregnancies deteriorated in the puerperium. Of the two surviving patients, one is functional class I and the other is functional class II.
Therefore, in those patients in whom cardiomegaly persisted, the prognosis was poor, and subsequent pregnancies were likely to lead to permanent deterioration. In those in whom the heart size returned to normal the prognosis was excellent.
- Primary myocardial disease
- Cardiac failure
- Myocardial fibrosis
- Postpartum cardiomyopathy
- Myocardial biopsy
- Received May 20, 1971.
- Accepted August 6, 1971.
- © 1971 American Heart Association, Inc.