Post-partum cardio myopathy is a disease that affects the heart’s left ventricular ejection fraction (basically you don't produce enough oxygen for your body, causing your heart to work overtime and become enlarged). While what causes PPCM is predicted to be hormone-related, what the actual trigger is, is unknown. What is known is that PPCM starts somewhere between the last month of pregnancy and the first five months post-partum. Somewhere between 1 in a 1,000-4,000 women in the U.S. are diagnosed with this heart disease.
I had my 9 month echo in September, and while I have a ways to go, I was really happy with my progress. My ejection fraction (EF) is at 30-35%. (A normal EF is between 50-60%. When I was first admitted onto the cardiac floor in January, my EF was 15%).
So, while I still have 15-20% to go, hitting 30 (or possibly above) is huge.
Some EF percentage milestone:
- At 30% of higher, the risk of cardiac arrest has lowered greatly and is now closer to that of a normal persons
- At 40% the pacemaker conversation goes away
- At 40%, while I wouldn't be fully recovered, I would have a normal life expectancy
- At 50%, I would be considered fully recovered (and would finally get doctor approval for cardiac activity)
On the scary flip side, a decrease in EF would be cause to skip the pacemaker and start talking heart transplant.
My next echo (and cardiology appointment) isn't until March. Dr. M is really happy with my progress and thinks all my new medications (and higher dosages) are doing the trick. After my appointment, Dr. M bumped me up to the highest beta blocker dosage possible. Medicine adjustments are hard, but I've gotten used to be exhausted that following week.
As for how I'm doing, I'm having a lot of good days now. Sadly, those good days are always followed by a bad day. I know it's because when my energy is high, I now get excited and want to do as much as possible. Dr. M refers to this as a "heart hangover."
I learned the hard way in August, that having a weakened heart also means having a weakened immune system. I was admitted into the hospital with pneumonia for 4 days, because my body couldn't break a 103 degree fever. I now have a pneumonia vaccine, so at least that illness is now crossed off my list for awhile.
This is the second time since May that I've gone to the ER with a scare. I must say I feel so medically saavy when I talk to the check-in attendant "I have PPCM with an EF of..." It always gets their attention, and there's no waiting room waiting for this girl.
Yep. I'm always looking on the bright side.