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BMJ Case Rep. 2010 Dec 20;2010. pii: bcr0520103039. doi: 10.1136/bcr.05.2010.3039.

Unilateral presentation of postpartum cardiomyopathy misdiagnosed as pneumonia.

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  • 1Emergency Department, Tel Aviv Medical Center, Tel Aviv, Israel. dr.ben.amit@gmail.com


A 34-year-old woman presented to the emergency department with severe dyspnoea 10 days following a normal-course caesarean delivery. She had been experiencing shortness of breath throughout the third trimester of pregnancy accompanied by tachycardia (110 bpm); however, her evaluation did not include ECG or chest radiography to elucidate the cause. Following delivery, chest radiography was performed demonstrating predominantly unilateral findings interpreted as pneumonia. ECG revealed T-wave inversion in leads V(4)-V(6), which was unaddressed. Overnight she deteriorated and a chest CT angiography was performed demonstrating heart enlargement and pulmonary oedema. An echocardiogram established a diminished ejection fraction (EF) of 15-20%, suggesting the diagnosis of peripartum cardiomyopathy. She was treated with angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, spirinolactone and furosemide, and was free of symptoms the following month with an EF of 40-45%. Though uncommon, heart failure is a potentially fatal cause of peripartum dyspnoea, often misdiagnosed, meriting further attention.

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