- CASE FILE
Peripartum cardiomyopathy, a rare form of heart failure developing during the 3rd trimester of pregnancy or up to 6 months post partum
ABOUT THIS CASE FILE
In May 2019, while pregnant with my second son, I noticed my feet and ankles were beginning to swell. Having developed pre-exlampsia during delivery of my first son in 2013, I considered this "normal", despite being on a blood pressure medication. At this time I was also experiencing extreme fatigue. I was struggling to get through the work day and unable to stay awake once coming home. Around June 2nd, 2019 at 30 weeks pregnant with my second son, I began to have trouble breathing. With a history of asthma and allergies, I assumed I was having a bad flare up. On June 4, 2019 I was experiencing contractions and advised to go to the hospital for monitoring. My heart rate was elevated and I mentioned I had been using my inhaler frequently - to which they concluded to be why my heart rate was elevated. My contractions weren't productive and I was sent home and told to drink plenty of fluids to dull the contractions. The following day I noticed a persistent urge to cough and trouble completing a full sentence without breathlessness. On Friday June 3rd, my feet and ankles were unusually swollen. When I got home from work I tried to lie down, only to find that I couldn't because doing so left me gasping for air. I spent the night trying to sleep upright, deciding I would go to urgent care in the morning for a breathing treatment. At the urgent care center, it was discovered my heart rate was very high. They did an EKG which came back as abnormal. I was sent to the hospital to check for DVT and PE. During my scan they discovered fluid around my lungs. An echocardiogram was done and I was subsequently rushed to the higher level hospital across the street. Upon arrival to the second hospital I had a full cardiology and full high risk obstetrical team waiting for me. After various attempts to reduce my heart rate without success, I was injected with adenosine which only slightly reduced my heart rate. A BNP blood test was done, confirming that I was in complete heart failure. I was admitted to the cardiac ICU and diagnosed with peripartum cardiomyopathy. I was under close bed rest monitoring until we could deliver at 34 weeks. During the 3 weeks of bed rest, I had various tests completed and my ejection fraction was 19%. I feel very fortunate to be able to tell my story, as more often than not, PPCM is not discovered until the mother dies. Though my life is forever changed, I am incredibly thankful the heart failure specialists at this hospital had seen a couple cases of PPCM. Many obstetric providers are not even aware the condition exists. The cause of PPCM is unknown. I will be undergoing genetic testing soon in hopes of assisting in research of this deadly disease. My wish is that in sharing my story, more people will learn of PPCM and urge the medical community to be aware of the signs and symptoms and advocate for more in depth research.