I took this picture two days after the birth of our third child Madelyn, born July 4th, 2012. In the picture, my Wife Caitlan is in the intensive care unit, whereby she would reside another six days. She was diagnosed in the nick of time, literally within hours of passing, with Peripartum Cardiomyopathy (PPCM).
Never heard of it? It is now the leading cause of maternal death, a rare form of heart disease that impacts pregnant women, typically in their last month of pregnancy or up to five months post birth. The symptoms mimic many common third trimester issues such as swelling in the legs and feet along with shortness of breath.
Our collective family goal is to create awareness of PPCM so other famiies can recognze the symptoms early. Caitlan will be on medication for life, but she was very fortunate comapred to most. The silver lining you ask? Never take life for granted!
Investigations are underway to understand the cause of PPCM and to develop new treatments. Investigators have focused on the role of prolactin in PPCM. Prolactin is a hormone released from the pituitary gland late in pregnancy and after delivery that stimulates breast milk production. Prolactin, however, may have adverse effects on the heart muscle by limiting its blood supply and causing cell death. Bromocryptine is a medication that inhibits the pituitary secretion of prolactin. Early studies suggest it helps treat PPCM, but more research is needed.
Thank you for supporting American Heart Association, as a local Board member, I am continually amazed and humbled by their work.
-Mark, Caitlan, Annalise (13), Finn (11), Madelyn (5)