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Genetic Analysis Suggests Dilated Cardiomyopathy Therapies May Work for Rare Peripartum Cardiomyopathy

May 11, 2021

Prevention and treatment approaches used for a common cause of heart failure may offer benefit for those who develop a rare form of heart failure during and shortly after pregnancy, according to findings from researchers supported by the Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) Program. Analyzing genetic information drawn from patients and multiple databases, the researchers discovered similarities between nonischemic dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), one of the most common causes of heart failure, and peripartum cardiomyopathy (PPCM), a rare but serious type of pregnancy-linked heart failure.

PPCM’s causes are unknown, and its clinical and genetic risk factors are poorly understood. In a recent study in the journal Circulation, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania explored potential links in 469 women between the development of PPCM and the presence of variants in genes that play key roles in cardiac function. They also examined the relationships between those genetic variants and the women’s recovery from PPCM. Nearly 15% of the women with PPCM had genetic variants in 12 different genes, and those women were four times more likely than a reference group of women without the genetic variants to develop PPCM. Although the genetic variants may have increased the risk of PPCM in women in the study, compared with women without the variants, the variants did not appear to worsen women’s PPCM symptoms or their recovery of heart function significantly.

The researchers also discovered that PPCM showed genetic and symptomatic similarities with DCM. Given those similarities, the findings suggest that applying the screening, counseling and treatment approaches used in DCM to the much rarer PPCM could benefit people with PPCM and their families.

Learn more about the researchers’ findings.

Last updated on March 4, 2024