Peripartum myocarditis and cardiomyopathy.
The clinical and pathologic features of 18 consecutive patients with peripartum cardiomyopathy at The Johns Hopkins Hospital were examined in an attempt to define the incidence of myocarditis and to determine its response to immunosuppressive agents. In addition to routine studies, patients were evaluated with echocardiography, nuclear ventriculography, right heart catheterization, and myocardial biopsy. Fourteen of the 18 patients (78%) showed evidence of myocarditis. Of these, 10 were treated with immunosuppressive therapy. Nine of the 10 treated patients with myocarditis had subjective and objective improvement. Follow-up endomyocardial biopsies in these patients showed resolution or substantial improvement in myocarditis. Four patients with myocarditis not treated with immunosuppressives also improved. All patients improving spontaneously presented with congestive heart failure within 1 month of delivery and improved dramatically within days of presentation. Four of the 18 patients showed no evidence of myocarditis. Of these, two improved, and two deteriorated (both requiring cardiac transplantation). None of these four patients were treated with immunosuppressive therapy. We conclude that in patients with peripartum cardiomyopathy, 1) the etiology remains unclear although myocarditis was present in 78% of those with this condition, 2) resolution of myocarditis is associated with significant improvement in left ventricular function, 3) myocarditis may resolve spontaneously without detectable loss of cardiac function, and 4) immunosuppressive therapy in patients with myocarditis and persistent left ventricular dysfunction may improve left ventricular function and prognosis.
- Copyright © 1990 by American Heart Association