Outlook Bleak for Future Pregnancy.
Most women recover from peripartum cardiomyopathy--defined as heart failure of unknown etiology that develops during pregnancy or the postpartum period--but data on subsequent pregnancies are limited. There is "no consensus regarding recommendations for future pregnancies," said Dr. Uri Elkayam and his associates at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles.
In a study of 44 women who recovered from the disorder, ventricular function declined during 60 subsequent pregnancies. Heart failure developed in 20% of those whose ventricular function had been normal at the beginning of the subsequent pregnancy and in 44% of those who had mild ventricular dysfunction at the beginning of the subsequent pregnancy (N. Engl. J. Med. 344:1567-71, 2001).
The rates of premature delivery, cardiac dysfunction, and death in these pregnancies were markedly higher than normal.