Research, published in this week’s New England Journal of Medicine, has claimed that peripartum cardiomyopathy (PPCM) could lead to pregnant women developing heart failure during late pregnancy or shortly after childbirth.
The published findings, by the Royal Brompton Hospital and Penn Cardiovascular Institute in the USA, present key genetic link in women with PPCM.
PPCM symptoms include; pre-existing hypertension and preeclampsia, with common symptoms of breathlessness and palpitations.
The research was conducted to determine whether PPCM is linked to genetic mutations that cause a condition similar to PPCM called dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM).
Researchers studied 172 women from six centres around the world, 332 with DCM in the UK and 60,000 other subjects, to compare prevalence variants across 43 genes.
The evidence suggests that PPCM has similar characteristics to DCM, with variants of the TTN gene found to be the most common for genetic disposition of PPCM and DCM.
Lead author of the research and consultant cardiologist at Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust, James Ware, told the Belfast Telegraph: “Our findings explain why a significant number of PPCM cases occur. When we looked at cases without the known risk factors we found a lot of genetic abnormalities. For example, a quarter of patients without hypertension had TTN gene mutations.”
PPCM affects up to 700 women in the UK every year, but its cause has been previously unknown.
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