Deaths Due to Cardiomyopathy in expecting Mother’s
Research suggests that pregnancy-related deaths due to a deadly heart condition called cardiomyopathy have more than doubled in recent years, and it appears that black women are particularly vulnerable.
Research suggests that pregnancy-related deaths due to a deadly heart condition called cardiomyopathy have more than doubled in recent years, and it appears that black women are particularly vulnerable. Using information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, investigators established that from 1979 to 1984, 3 percent of pregnancy-related deaths were caused by cardiomyopathy. From 1991 to 1997, this figure rose to 7.7 percent. Of the total of 245 cardiomyopathy deaths in the latter period, 70 percent were due to so-called peripartum cardiomyopathy. Peripartum cardiomyopathy is a rare but sometimes fatal form of heart failure that occurs in about one out of 10,000 deliveries. The condition usually occurs in the last month of pregnancy or in the month after delivery in otherwise healthy women. Mortality increased as maternal age increased and overall, black women were 6.4 times more likely to die from cardiomyopathy than were white women. These patterns were found in both peripartum and other cardiomyopathy deaths. However, the researchers, writing in the December issue of the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, note that the true prevalence of peripartum cardiomyopathy in the US is unknown and this in part is due to deficiencies in the coding system. Dr. Sara J. Whitehead and colleagues at the CDC call for further studies to better “estimate the prevalence of cardiomyopathy and identify modifiable risk factors associated with these deaths and the reasons for [the] racial disparity.” (Source: Obstetrics and Gynecology, MEDLINE Plus, Dec 2003)