[Peripartum cardiomyopathy: A multiple entity].
Peripartum cardiomyopathy (PPCMP) is a dilated and hypokinetic cardiomyopathy occurring during pregnancy or after delivery, with an estimated incidence between 1/1000 and 1/4000 births. It has been defined as a new onset of heart failure in the month preceding or following delivery, without demonstrated aetiology nor previously known heart disease, and with echocardiographic evidences of left ventricular (LV) dysfunction (LV ejection fraction<0.45). It's a multifactorial disease, immunologic, hormonal, and possibly viral mechanisms playing a determinant pathophysiological role. The classical clinical presentation is a rapid and unexpected onset of heart failure in a previously healthy woman, echocardiography being the key examination for positive and differential diagnosis, prognostication, therapeutic decision-making, and follow-up. The potential severity of PPCMP, and its unpredictable evolution in the first days following diagnosis, require that patients be referred to a tertiary care centre with a high skill in intensive cardiology care. Therapeutic management of PPCMP does not offer any specificity when compared to other causes of acute or chronic heart failure (from diuretics to extracorporeal life support), except for ACE-inhibitors, that are contraindicated before delivery. The high incidence of thrombo-embolic complications observed in the disease requires however rapid and curative anticoagulation, and immuno-suppressive treatment has been proposed in fulminant and highly inflammatory presentation, but its efficacy remains controversial. Very recently, promising results have been reported with bromocriptin-a prolactin secretion inhibitor-for reducing 6-month morbidity and mortality, but these findings have to be confirmed in larger scale randomised trials. As for the long-term evolution, approximately half of the patients will heal, while half of the women will keep some degree of LV dysfunction, 25% of them developing moderate to severe chronic heart failure.
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