Peripartum cardiomyopathy


  • Uncommon cause of heart failure
  • Incidence: 1:968 to 1:4000 in the United States[1]

Clinical Features

  • Peripartum with presentation similar to typical CHF
    • Usually occurs in last month of pregnancy or first five months postpartum

Differential Diagnosis


3rd Trimester/Postpartum Emergencies




4 criteria needed to meet definition:[2]

  1. Development of heart failure in last month of pregnancy or within 5 month postpartum
  2. No identifiable alternate cause of heart failure
  3. No pre-existing heart disease
  4. LV ejection fraction < 45%


  • Treat like usual heart failure
  • Consider anticoagulation if EF <30% during and 2-3mo after delivery; avoid warfarin and DOACs
  • If pregnant:
    • Avoid nitroprusside and ACEI
    • Use of phenylephrine and norepinephrine controversial
      • Some animal/in vitro studies suggest increased vasoconstriction of uterine arteries may lead to adverse fetal outcome, however evidence of effect on human uterine arteries is limited[3] [4]
      • Maternal hypotension is bad for both mother and fetus!
    • Consider fetal monitoring to assist in evaluating uterine perfusion


  • Admit


  • Mortality rate up to 10%[5]
  • High risk of recurrence in subsequent pregnancies[5]
  • Many patients recover within 3 to 6 months of disease onset[5]

See Also


  1. Sliwa K et al. Current state of knowledge on aetiology, diagnosis, management, and therapy of peripartum cardiomyopathy: a position statement from the Heart Failure Association of the European Society of Cardiology Working Group on peripartum cardiomyopathy. Eur J Heart Fail. 2010;12(8):767. PMID: 20675664
  2. Elkayam U et al. Pregnancy-associated cardiomyopathy: clinical characteristics and a comparison between early and late presentation. Circulation. 2005 Apr 26; 111(16): 2050-5.
  3. Van Nimwegen D, Dyer DC. The action of vasopressors on isolated uterine arteries. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1974;118(8):1099.
  4. Branco D, Caramona M, Martel F, de Almeida JA, Osswald W. Predominance of oxidative deamination in the metabolism of exogenous noradrenaline by the normal and chemically denervated human uterine artery. Naunyn Schmeidebergs Arch Pharmacol. 1992 Sep;346(3):286-93.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Bhattacharyya A et Al. Peripartum Cardiomyopathy: A Review. Tex Heart Inst J. 2012; 39(1): 8–16.