Peripartum cardiomyopathy, a type of dilated cardiomyopathy of unknown origin, occurs in previously healthy women in the final month of pregnancy and up to 5 months after delivery. Although the incidence is low—less than 0.1% of pregnancies —morbidity and mortality rates are high at 5% to 32%. The outcome of peripartum cardiomyopathy is also highly variable. For some women, the clinical and echocardiographic status improves and sometimes returns to normal, whereas for others, the disease progresses to severe cardiac failure and even sudden cardiac death. In acute care, treatment may involve the use of intravenous vasodilators, inotropic medications, an intra-aortic balloon pump, ventricular-assist devices, and/or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation. Survivors of peripartum cardiomyopathy often recover from left ventricular dysfunction; however, they may be at risk for recurrence of heart failure and death in subsequent pregnancies. Women with chronic left ventricular dysfunction should be managed according to guidelines of the American College of Cardiology Foundation and the American Heart Association.

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