Reasons Of Heart Failure After Delivery | Blog By Dr.Heena Chawla Parasbliss Panchkula

What Causes Heart Failure after Giving Birth?

What Causes Heart Failure after Giving Birth?

by: Dr. Heena Chawla
Consultant- Gynec-Oncology & Endoscopic Surgeon - Paras Bliss, Panchkula

Heart failure is not common after delivery but can occur due to different conditions like valvular heart disease, uncontrolled hypertension etc. Postpartum cardiomyopathy, that can occur during the last month of pregnancy or up to five months after giving birth is one of the most important causes. . About one in every 2,000 to 3,000 pregnant women develops heart failure after giving child birth and it is a devastating illness.

What Causes the Weakening of the Heart in Pregnancy?

There is weakening of the heart muscles which causes the heart to become enlarged. As a result, the heart can’t pump blood properly to the rest of the body. This affects the lungs, liver, and other body systems. During  pregnancy the heart already pumps up to 50 percent more blood to provide more oxygen and nutrients to the growing baby. Any additional risk factor like obesity, multiple pregnancy, age more than 30 years, previous history of heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, smoking, alcoholism and malnutrion pose additional stress for the heart and may predispose to heart failure.

Signs and Symptoms associated with Postpartum Cardiomyopathy:

Symptoms may include:

  • Rapid heartbeat (palpitations)
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Persistent cough
  • Swollen neck
  • Swelling of the feet or ankles
  • Increased urination at night.

Investigations to detect Postpartum Cardiomyopathy:

Investigations include electrocardiogram, echocardiography which measures the ejection fraction of the heart (pumping capacity) and chest X Ray.

Treatment associated with Postpartum Cardiomyopathy:

  • The main aim of the treatment is to prevent fluid collecting in the lungs which helps the heart to recover.
  • Most of the women improve with medication. Medicines are given which strengthen the heart’s pumping ability and remove excess fluid from lungs.
  • Drugs which are safe during breastfeeding are generally prescribed. However, some women progress to severe heart failure which requires mechanical support or heart transplantation.
  • Women who develop peripartum cardiomyopathy are at high risk of developing the same problem with future pregnancies.
  • To minimize risk, women should avoid cigarettes and alcohol, eat a well-balanced diet and exercise regularly.
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