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Eur J Heart Fail. 2010 Aug;12(8):767-78. doi: 10.1093/eurjhf/hfq120.

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.

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Hatter Cardiovascular Research Institute, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa.


Peripartum cardiomyopathy (PPCM) is a cause of pregnancy-associated heart failure. It typically develops during the last month of, and up to 6 months after, pregnancy in women without known cardiovascular disease. The present position statement offers a state-of-the-art summary of what is known about risk factors for potential pathophysiological mechanisms, clinical presentation of, and diagnosis and management of PPCM. A high index of suspicion is required for the diagnosis, as shortness of breath and ankle swelling are common in the peripartum period. Peripartum cardiomyopathy is a distinct form of cardiomyopathy, associated with a high morbidity and mortality, but also with the possibility of full recovery. Oxidative stress and the generation of a cardiotoxic subfragment of prolactin may play key roles in the pathophysiology of PPCM. In this regard, pharmacological blockade of prolactin offers the possibility of a disease-specific therapy.

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