I had a fairly normal pregnancy but now, in retrospect, there are a few symptoms that were likely indicators of my impending peripartum cardiomyopathy (PPCM) diagnosis.
There was one incident where I almost blacked out in a parking lot. I had my toddler in the shopping cart and I had to kneel down for a few minutes until the darkness in front of my eyes and dizziness passed. When I told my doctor about this plus the fact that my heart rate always ran high at my appointments, he ordered an EKG which came back normal. I didn’t worry about it after that.
*Side Note: An echocardiogram is needed to help diagnose PPCM. An echocardiogram is basically an ultrasound of your heart that can measure your ejection fraction (EF). EF is how much blood the left ventricle pumps out with each contraction. A person with an EF less than 45% is considered to be in heart failure.
During the last few weeks of my pregnancy, however, I started experiencing even more PPCM symptoms including what felt like unending nighttime urination (I was literally up every 1 to 2 hours going to the bathroom), extreme swelling of feet and ankles and a ton of weight gain (I gained less than 30lbs with my first pregnancy, with this one I gained over 50lbs). With my first pregnancy I didn’t experience any of these things at the extreme levels I was with this pregnancy. I was a little concerned and brought these issues up at each OB appointment. Everyone just told me it was normal, so I believed them. I mean, what do I know…