Peripartum cardiomyopathy: disease or syndrome?

Peripartum cardiomyopathy (PPCM) is a rare form of pregnancy-associated heart failure and is considered to be a diagnosis of exclusion. There are many hypotheses on the aetiology of PPCM; however, the exact pathophysiological mechanism remains unknown. It shows many resemblances to other conditions, such as familial dilated cardiomyopathy or myocarditis, and therefore it can be hard to make a definite diagnosis. We describe four cases of peripartum-onset heart failure in women who were suspected of having PPCM. We discuss the differential diagnosis, pathophysiological mechanisms and various diagnostic modalities.

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