[Peripartum Cardiomyopathy]

Dtsch Med Wochenschr. 2022 Nov;147(23):1537-1544. doi: 10.1055/a-1810-9318. Epub 2022 Nov 16.
[Article in German]


Peripartum cardiomyopathy (PPCM) is a rare but potentially life-threatening heart disease, with onset in the last month of pregnancy or in the first months after delivery in previously heart-healthy women. PPCM patients typically present with heart failure due to left ventricular (LV) dysfunction with an LV ejection fraction (EF) < 45 %. In the last years clinical and experimental studies contributed to a better understanding of the pathophysiology and the clinical course of PPCM. In the context of oxidative stress, the nursing hormone prolactin is cleaved into a smaller antiangiogenic and proapoptotic 16k Da form, leading to myocardial dysfunction. In an animal model this can be prevented by treatment with the dopamine agonist bromocriptine, which suppresses prolactin release. This therapeutic approach was confirmed in several clinical studies. Therefore, the current guidelines recommend a treatment consisting of a heart failure treatment according to current guidelines in combination with the dopamine agonist bromocriptine. If the diagnosis is made early and the treatment is started immediately, the prognosis is good compared to other forms of cardiomyopathies, as LV function recovers in most cases.In the acute phase the severity of heart failure differs among PPCM patients. Some patients present with mild forms, whereas some PPCM patients display severely reduced LV function and cardiogenic shock. Especially the latter cases are still challenging, as treatment with β1-adrenergic receptor agonists is associated with progression of heart failure and a worse cardiac outcome. Therefore, patients with cardiogenic shock complicating PPCM should be treated in centers experienced in mechanical circulatory support in combination with bromocriptine treatment.

Publication types

  • English Abstract

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bromocriptine / therapeutic use
  • Cardiomyopathies* / diagnosis
  • Cardiomyopathies* / drug therapy
  • Dopamine Agonists / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Heart Failure* / diagnosis
  • Heart Failure* / etiology
  • Heart Failure* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Peripartum Period
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Cardiovascular* / diagnosis
  • Pregnancy Complications, Cardiovascular* / drug therapy
  • Prolactin / therapeutic use
  • Puerperal Disorders* / diagnosis
  • Puerperal Disorders* / drug therapy
  • Shock, Cardiogenic / etiology
  • Ventricular Dysfunction, Left*


  • Bromocriptine
  • Prolactin
  • Dopamine Agonists