Birth injuries: Peripartum Cardiomyopathy

Peripartum cardiomyopathy is a birth-related disorder. Cardiomyopathy may arise when there is trauma to the heart. The condition is often diagnosed in the last few weeks of pregnancy or sometime within five months of giving birth.

When cardiomyopathy occurs, the muscle in the heart becomes weak. It cannot carry blood efficiently through the body. This decrease in heart function affects the mother’s liver, lungs and other vital organs in the body. While the condition affects every one in 1,300 to 4,000 deliveries, according to the National Institute of Health, it is commonly seen in women over the age of 30.

How can a doctor determine whether a mother has peripartum cardiomyopathy?

When a doctor conducts a detailed examination of the mother, he or she generally looks for issues with the lungs, including the presence of fluid. This can be done by tapping and touching the mother with fingers and listening for abnormalities in the chest with a stethoscope. If there is an issue, the lung will make bizarre noises, including crackles or atypical heart sounds. Moreover, a physician will often check for an enlarged liver or swollen neck veins. Also, the mother’s blood pressure may drop under such conditions. All of these are symptoms and signs of a serious heart condition.

Also, doctors can use the following testing devices to determine whether there is an issue with the heart:

  • Echocardiogram.
  • Nuclear heart scan.
  • Chest CT scan.
  • Coronary angiography.
  • Chest x-ray.

If a doctor suspects a problem, he or she might conduct a heart biopsy to decipher a reason for the  cardiomyopathy. In several cases, peripartum cardiomyopathy is associated with myocarditis.

Dealing with peripartum cardiomyopathy

The good news is that this condition is usually reversible. For most sufferers, treatment focuses on relieving symptoms, which include fatigue, palpitations, increased urination, shortness of breath and swelling of the ankles. This can be done with simple medications.

On the other hand, when medical professionals overlook symptoms or fail to implement appropriate tests, this could worsen a mother’s condition. Yet, every case is unique. The type of treatment received will depend on the progression of one’s condition.

Ultimately, peripartum cardiomyopathy is a very serious condition, which should not be ignored. If you believe a doctor failed to  diagnose or treat your heart condition, contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney in your area. You do not deserve to suffer from the oversights of your medical professional.