News | Womens Healthcare | October 19, 2017

Pregnancy-Related Heart Failure Strikes Black Women Twice as Often as Other Races

Penn study finds African American women present with even worse symptoms and take twice as long to recover from peripartum cardiomyopathy as compared to white, Hispanic and Asian women

Pregnancy-Related Heart Failure Strikes Black Women Twice as Often as Other Races

October 19, 2017 — African American women were found to be twice as likely to be diagnosed with peripartum cardiomyopathy as compared to women of Caucasian, Hispanic/Latina, Asian and other ethnic backgrounds, according to a new study. The study, the largest of its kind, was published in JAMA Cardiology by researchers from the Perelman school of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

Peripartum cardiomyopathy (PPCM), a form of heart failure that occurs in the last month of pregnancy or up to five months following delivery, can be life-threatening. The new study is the first to pinpoint racial disparities associated with severity and effects of the condition.

“Not only are African American women at twice the risk, but in this study we found they also took twice as long to recover, they were twice as likely to worsen before getting better after diagnosis, and they were twice as likely to fail to recover altogether, meaning their heart failure persisted for months following delivery,” said senior author Zoltan Arany, M.D., Ph.D., an associate professor of cardiovascular medicine and director of the Cardiovascular Metabolism Program.

In this retrospective study, researchers evaluated the electronic medical records of 220 patients who had been diagnosed with PPCM or heart failure between January 1986 and December 2016 at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Hospital and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center. The team analyzed patient demographics such as age and ethnicity, in addition to the patient’s ejection fraction (EF) — the measurement of the percentage of blood leaving the heart each time it contracts — and whether the patient delivered twins, or had a cesarean delivery.

Researchers determined that African American women presented with symptoms of PPCM at a younger age — the average age was 27 years old — than non-African American patients, who averaged 31 years old at the time of diagnosis. African American patients also presented with a lower EF, and they continued to have a lower EF as compared to non-African American patients even after follow-up. A greater portion of African-American women also had worsening EF even after they began treatment, which caused to them take longer to recover than the others.

“While we know that African American women are at greater risk for PPMC, the disparity in disease diversity at presentation and the subsequent progression of the condition in this patient population was staggering,” said the study’s lead author, Olga Corazon Irizarry, M.D., a first year obstetrics and gynecology resident.

Another interesting finding from this study was the correlation between twin pregnancies, cesarean delivery, gestational hypertension and a PPCM diagnosis. African American women were found to be less likely to have twin pregnancies and to deliver via cesarean than their non-African American counterparts. But, African American women were more likely to experience chronic hypertension, which could be a risk indicator of PPCM.

“Our study, while a retrospective one, opens the door for even more research on this subject, to find out why these women are more at risk,” said Jennifer Lewey, M.D., MPH, an assistant professor of cardiovascular medicine and director of the Penn Women’s Cardiovascular Center. “Is this risk increased due to genetics, socioeconomic status and access to care, or due to contributing medical problems such as hypertension? Our next step will be to answer these questions, and identify how we can proactively diagnose and potentially prevent such a dangerous diagnosis in this at-risk patient population.”

For more information: www.jamanetwork.com/journals/jamacardiology

Related Content

Male Triathletes May Be Putting Their Heart Health at Risk
News | Cardiac Diagnostics | January 09, 2018
Competitive male triathletes face a higher risk of a potentially harmful heart condition called myocardial fibrosis,...
ERT Acquires iCardiac Technologies
News | Cardiac Diagnostics | December 19, 2017
ERT recently announced it has acquired iCardiac Technologies, a provider of centralized cardiac safety and respiratory...
New Study Suggests Protein Could Protect Against Coronary Artery Disease

Patients with no obstructed blood flow in the coronary arteries had higher levels of CXCL5 (blue) compared to patients with moderate levels (green) or lower levels (yellow) of CXCL5, who had increased severity of coronary obstructions (indicated by the arrows). Credit: Schisler lab

News | Cardiac Diagnostics | December 07, 2017
December 7, 2017 — The buildup of plaque in the heart’s arteries is an unfortunate part of aging.
E-cigarettes Most Likely to be Used by Alcohol Drinkers and Former Cigarette Smokers, at American Heart Association (AHA), #AHA2017.
News | Cardiac Diagnostics | December 06, 2017
December 6, 2017 — Electronic cigarettes are more frequently used by people who recently quit smoking and alcohol dri
Lack of sleep may cause heart disease in older women. American heart Association, #AHA2017
News | Cardiac Diagnostics | December 06, 2017
December 6, 2017 — Older women who do not get enough sleep were more likely to have poor cardiovascular health, accor
New Tool Predicts Risk of Heart Attack in Older Surgery Patients
News | Cardiac Diagnostics | December 05, 2017
A tool designed to more accurately predict the risk of heart attack in older patients undergoing non-cardiac surgery...
EPIC Norfolk prospective population study showed any physical activity is better than none in older adults in preventing cardiovascular disease.

The EPIC Norfolk prospective population study showed any physical activity is better than none in older adults in preventing cardiovascular disease.

News | Cardiac Diagnostics | November 24, 2017
November 24, 2017 — Any physical activity in the elderly is better than none at all for reducing cardiovascular risk,
Analytics 4 Life Presents Clinical Data on Machine-Learned Cardiac Imaging Technology at TCT 2017
News | Cardiac Diagnostics | November 01, 2017
Analytics 4 Life announced it will be presenting new clinical data on the company's ongoing Coronary Artery Disease...
American Heart Association, Verily and AstraZeneca Launch One Brave Idea Science Innovation Center
News | Cardiac Diagnostics | October 20, 2017
The American Heart Association, Verily and AstraZeneca announced the opening of the One Brave Idea Science Innovation...
Overlay Init