Background: Little is known of the outcome of pregnant patients with previously diagnosed dilated cardiomyopathy. These patients are usually firmly advised against continuation of the pregnancy.
Objectives: To examine the usefulness of serial echocardiographic follow-up and plasma N-terminal pro-B type natriuretic peptide levels in the management of pregnant women with preexisting DCM.
Methods: We prospectively enrolled pregnant women with DCM either known or diagnosed in the first trimester. Clinical examination and serial echocardiography studies at baseline, 30 weeks gestation, peripartum, and 3 and 18 months postpartum were performed. Blinded NTproBNP levels were obtained at 30 weeks, delivery and 3 months postpartum.
Results: Between June 2005 and October 2006 we enrolled seven women who fulfilled the study criteria. Delivery and postpartum were complicated in 3 patients (42%): 2 with acute heart failure, which resolved conservatively, and 1 with major pulmonary embolism. The left ventricular ejection fraction was stable throughout the pregnancy (35% ± 2.8 at baseline, 33% ± 2.9 at 30 weeks) and postpartum (35% ± 2.8 at 1 day, 34% ± 3.1 at 90 days). Similar stable behavior was observed regarding left ventricular dimensions: LV end-systolic diameters 43.3 ± 2.7 mm and LV end-diastolic diameters 57.3 ± 3.3 mm at baseline compared with 44.1 ± 3.1 mm and 58.7 ± 3.1 mm postpartum, respectively. The NT-ProBNP levels rose significantly peripartum in all three patients with complications.
Conclusions: Serial NT-proBNP levels, as compared to echocardiography, may be a better clinical tool in monitoring and management of pregnant women with preexisting DCM. An early rise in NT-ProBNP level appears to predict the occurrence of adverse events.