Heart rate as an early predictor of severe cardiomyopathy and increased mortality in peripartum cardiomyopathy

Clin Cardiol. 2022 Feb;45(2):205-213. doi: 10.1002/clc.23782. Epub 2022 Feb 7.


Background: Delays in diagnosis of peripartum cardiomyopathy (PPCM) are common and are associated with worse outcomes; however, few studies have addressed methods for improving early detection.

Hypothesis: We hypothesized that easily accessible data (heart rate [HR] and electrocardiograms [ECGs]) could identify women with more severe PPCM and at increased risk of adverse outcomes.

Methods: Clinical data, including HR and ECG, from patients diagnosed with PPCM between January 1998 and July 2016 at our institution were collected and analyzed. Linear and logistic regression were used to analyze the relationship between HR at diagnosis and the left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) at diagnosis. Outcomes included overall mortality, recovery status, and major adverse cardiac events.

Results: Among 82 patients meeting inclusion criteria, the overall mean LVEF at diagnosis was 26 ± 11.1%. Sinus tachycardia (HR > 100) was present in a total of 50 patients (60.9%) at the time of diagnosis. In linear regression, HR significantly predicted lower LVEF (F = 30.00, p < .0001). With age-adjusted logistic regression, elevated HR at diagnosis was associated with a fivefold higher risk of overall mortality when initial HR was >110 beats per minute (adjusted odds ratio 5.35, confidence interval 1.23-23.28), p = .025).

Conclusion: In this study, sinus tachycardia in women with PPCM was associated with lower LVEF at the time of diagnosis. Tachycardia in the peripartum period should raise concern for cardiomyopathy and may be an early indicator of adverse prognosis.

Keywords: heart failure; nonischemic cardiomyopathy; outcomes; peripartum cardiomyopathy; pregnancy; risk factors.

MeSH terms

  • Cardiomyopathies*
  • Female
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Peripartum Period
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Cardiovascular* / diagnosis
  • Stroke Volume / physiology
  • Ventricular Function, Left / physiology