Pearson et al offered a definition for peripartum cardiomyopathy based on the criteria of Demakis and Rahimtoola. The diagnosis can be difficult and requires exclusion of other causes of cardiomyopathy. The authors are from multiple institutions in the United States and England who participated in an NIH Workshop on Peripartum Cardiomyopathy in 1997.


Criteria for the diagnosis of peripartum cardiomyopathy:

(1) onset of cardiac failure in the 6 month period (from 1 month before to 5 months after delivery) in a previously healthy woman

(2) no other explanation for the heart failure or cardiomyopathy (myocarditis, etc)

(3) no evidence of heart disease prior to the last month of the pregnancy


The diagnosis is supported by echocardiographic evidence of left ventricular systolic dysfunction.


One of the challenges in diagnosis is to distinguish cardiomyopathy caused by the pregnancy from a pre-existing cardiomyopathy unmasked by the pregnancy.


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