Long-term follow-up in peripartum cardiomyopathy patients with contemporary treatment: low mortality, high cardiac recovery, but significant cardiovascular co-morbidities

Eur J Heart Fail. 2019 Dec;21(12):1534-1542. doi: 10.1002/ejhf.1624. Epub 2019 Nov 13.


Aims: Peripartum cardiomyopathy (PPCM) establishes late in pregnancy or in the first postpartum months. Many patients recover well within the first year, but long-term outcome studies on morbidity and mortality are rare. Here, we present 5-year follow-up data of a German PPCM cohort.

Methods and results: Five-year follow-up data were available for 66 PPCM patients (mean age 34 ± 5 years) with a mean left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) of 26 ± 9% at diagnosis. Ninety-eight percent initially received standard heart failure therapy (beta-blockers, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors/angiotensin receptor blockers, and/or mineralocorticoid receptor antagonists), and 86% were additionally treated with dopamine D2 receptor agonists (mainly bromocriptine) and anticoagulation. After 1 year, mean LVEF had improved to 50 ± 11% (n = 48) and further increased to 54 ± 7% at 5-year follow-up with 72% of patients having achieved full cardiac recovery (LVEF >50%). At 5-year follow-up, only three patients (5%) displayed no recovery, of whom one had died. However, 20% had arterial hypertension and 17% arrhythmias, including paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia, ventricular tachycardia, or ventricular fibrillation. Moreover, 70% were still on at least one heart failure drug. Subsequent pregnancy occurred in 16 patients with two abortions and 14 uneventful pregnancies. Mean LVEF was 55 ± 7% at 5-year follow-up in these patients.

Conclusion: Our PPCM collective treated with standard therapy for heart failure, dopamine D2 receptor agonists, and anticoagulation displays a high and stable long-term recovery rate with low mortality at 5-year follow-up. However, long-term use of cardiovascular medication, persisting or de novo hypertension and arrhythmias were frequent.

Keywords: Co-morbidities; Heart failure; Medication; Peripartum cardiomyopathy; Subsequent pregnancy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cardiomyopathies / drug therapy*
  • Cardiomyopathies / physiopathology
  • Cardiovascular Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Comorbidity
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Peripartum Period*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Cardiovascular / physiopathology
  • Pregnancy Complications, Cardiovascular / therapy*
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Recovery of Function*
  • Stroke Volume / physiology*
  • Time Factors
  • Ventricular Function, Left / physiology*


  • Cardiovascular Agents