A new study finds that women who experience unexplained heart failure towards the end of pregnancy or shortly after delivery share certain genetic changes.
The study gives some explanation for this mysterious condition. Researchers say that by examining relatives, other women who carry the same genes, and who might face similar risks, could be recognized early. In the future preventative therapy might be developed too.
‘Researchers find genetic link to unexplained heart failure affecting pregnant women. Women with peripartum cardiomyopathy had a very similar genetic profile to patients with dilated cardiomyopathy.’
Around the time of childbirth the heart enlarges, and stops pumping properly. This can lead to death or the need for a heart transplant, and at the moment clinicians don't know who this will happen to.
Many women suffer from this condition, known as peripartum cardiomyopathy (PPCM).
Women who suffer from pre-eclampsia - a condition characterized by high blood pressure and a large amount of protein in the urine, those pregnant with twins and older pregnant women are at higher risk of developing PPCM.
The cause is unknown, but the contributing factors include: an auto-immune response, undiagnosed heart damage, too much salt or too little selenium in the diet.
The teams found that the women they tested carried a higher number of genetic changes than normal. The research team decoded genes that can cause rare inherited forms of cardiomyopathy. They found that women with peripartum cardiomyopathy had a very similar genetic profile to patients with dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM).