Doctors need to be aware of peripartum cardiomyopathy in expectant mothers

Birth related disorders are more common than we might think. One such issue is peripartum cardiomyopathy, which is extremely serious.

Peripartum cardiomyopathy is often discovered during the last few weeks of a pregnancy. It may also be diagnosed within five months of delivering the baby. This is a serious and potentially deadly condition that doctors need to be aware of and remain on top of it, should it be diagnosed.

Cardiomyopathy refers to a weak heart muscle that is unable to properly transport blood through the mother’s body. Without enough oxygen, the lungs, liver and other vital organs are seriously affected. This condition, according to the National Institute of Health (NIH), is seen in approximately every one in 1,300 to 4,000 deliveries. More often than not, it occurs in women over the age of 30.

How does a physician make a finding of peripartum cardiomyopathy? Usually, the doctor would find evidence of this disorder during a regular pregnancy check, or if the mother came to the office with unexplained, unusual symptoms such as palpitations, shortness of breath, swollen ankles, persistent fatigue, and increased urination.

In most instances, the first thing a doctor would check would be the lungs, to determine if there is fluid in them. This is usually accomplished by tapping the lung area with the fingers, like playing percussion on a small drum, and listening with a stethoscope. If there are any unusual sounds, such as crackling in the lungs or the heart rhythm is not steady, the doctor checks for swollen neck veins and/or an enlarged liver. The mother’s blood pressure may also drop if she has peripartum cardiomyopathy.

A responsible physician runs various tests to find out what is affecting the heart that may include, but not be limited to: a nuclear heart scan, an ECG, chest x-ray, coronary angiography and chest CT scan. Although this is a serious condition, it is reversible with prompt and appropriate treatment with the right range of drugs.

If a doctor does not accurately diagnose this condition, or fails to diagnose this condition, or does not order appropriate tests and the condition worsens and causes serious harm, it is classified as medical negligence. If you believe your doctor failed to treat you properly, contact a skilled medical malpractice lawyer for assistance in obtaining compensation.

Learn more about birth injuries.