Peripartum cardiomyopathy: a contemporary review

Methodist Debakey Cardiovasc J. 2013 Jan-Mar;9(1):38-43. doi: 10.14797/mdcj-9-1-38.


Peripartum cardiomyopathy is a rare and potentially fatal disease. Though approximately half of the patients recover, the clinical course is highly variable and some patients develop refractory heart failure and persistent left ventricular systolic dysfunction. It is diagnosed when women present with heart failure secondary to left ventricular systolic dysfunction towards the end of pregnancy or in the months following delivery, where no other cause of heart failure is found. Etiology remains unclear, and treatment is similar to other cardiomyopathies and includes evidence-based standard heart failure management strategies. Experimental strategies such as intravenous immunoglobulin and bromocriptine await further clinical validation.

Keywords: Peripartum cardiomyopathy; etiology and diagnosis; heart failure; management; pregnancy; prognosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiomyopathies* / diagnosis
  • Cardiomyopathies* / epidemiology
  • Cardiomyopathies* / physiopathology
  • Cardiomyopathies* / therapy
  • Female
  • Heart Failure* / diagnosis
  • Heart Failure* / epidemiology
  • Heart Failure* / physiopathology
  • Heart Failure* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Peripartum Period
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Cardiovascular* / diagnosis
  • Pregnancy Complications, Cardiovascular* / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy Complications, Cardiovascular* / physiopathology
  • Pregnancy Complications, Cardiovascular* / therapy
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Factors
  • Ventricular Dysfunction, Left* / diagnosis
  • Ventricular Dysfunction, Left* / epidemiology
  • Ventricular Dysfunction, Left* / physiopathology
  • Ventricular Dysfunction, Left* / therapy
  • Ventricular Function, Left

Grant support

Funding/Support: Dr. Ather is supported by the American Heart Association SCA predoctoral fellowship (2010-2012) and the Alkek foundation fellowship (2009-2012).