Peripartum cardiomyopathy

Rodolfo Citro, Roberta Giudice, Marco Mirra, Rosa Paolillo, Chiara Paolillo, Anna Battimelli, Gennaro Provenza, Amelia Ravera, Rosario Farina, Cesare Baldi



Peripartum cardiomyopathy is an uncommon form of congestive heart failure associated with systolic dysfunction of left ventricle. The onset is characterised by symptoms of heart failure occurring between the last month of pregnancy and 5-6 months postpartum. The early diagnosis and the institution of medical treatment for this disease are essential because the inadequate management may affect the patient’s long-term prognosis and can lead to severe complications, including death.

Currently its aetiology is not completely understood. Many aetiopathogenetic hypotheses have been formulated: inflammation, viral agents, autoimmune processes. In the last years, evidences aroused for a role of prolactin and its 16 kDa metabolite in reducing cardiomyocite metabolic activity and contraction. In this article we have reviewed the current literature with special emphasis on the role of prolactin and the related current treatment strategies. In particular, bromocriptine appears promising, even if women need to be informed that the drug stops the production of breastmilk. Further researchers, such as large multicenter trials, are needed to decide the best treatment for the women suffering of this disease.


Peripartum cardiomyopathy; Cardiac failure; Prolactin; Pregnancy

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