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.
Peripartum cardiomyopathy is often discovered during the last few weeks of a pregnancy but may be diagnosed within five months of delivering the baby.
A physician can diagnose the condition during a regular pregnancy check, but sometimes a mother will visit her OB/gyn 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 your doctor neglected to diagnose peripartum cardiomyopathy, birth injury lawyers Chris Mellino and Tom Robenalt welcome you to contact our Cleveland office for a free consultation. You may also download or request Chris’ free, easy-to-read guide to filing a claim in Ohio.