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      Experiences of health care in women with Peripartum Cardiomyopathy in Sweden: a qualitative interview study

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          Peripartum cardiomyopathy is often associated with severe heart failure occurring towards the end of pregnancy or in the months following birth with debilitating, exhausting and frightening symptoms requiring person-centered care. The aim of this study was to explore women’s experiences of health care while being diagnosed with peripartum cardiomyopathy.


          Qualitative interviews were conducted with 19 women with peripartum cardiomyopathy in Sweden, following consent. Data were analysed using qualitative content analysis. Confirmability was ensured by peer-debriefing, and an audit trail was kept to establish the credibility of the study.


          The main theme in the experience of health care was, ‘Exacerbated Suffering’, expressed in three subthemes; ‘not being cared about’, ‘not being cared for’ and ‘not feeling secure.’ The suffering was present in relation to the illness with failing health symptoms, but most of all in relation to not being taken seriously and adequately cared for by healthcare professionals. Women felt they were on an assembly line in midwives’ routine work where knowledge about peripartum cardiomyopathy was lacking and they showed distrust and dissatisfaction with care related to negligence and indifference experienced from healthcare professionals. Feelings of being alone and lost were prominent and related to a sense of insecurity, distress and uneasiness.


          This study shows a knowledge gap of peripartum cardiomyopathy in maternity care personnel. This is alarming as the deprecation of symptoms and missed diagnosis of peripartum cardiomyopathy can lead to life-threatening consequences. To prompt timely diagnosis and avoid unnecessary suffering it is important to listen seriously to, and respect, women’s narratives and act on expressions of symptoms of peripartum cardiomyopathy, even those overlapping normal pregnancy symptoms.

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          Most cited references 32

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          Content analysis: An introduction to its methodology

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            Peripartum cardiomyopathy.

            Peripartum cardiomyopathy (PPCM) is a disorder in which initial left ventricular systolic dysfunction and symptoms of heart failure occur between the late stages of pregnancy and the early postpartum period. It is common in some countries and rare in others. The causes and pathogenesis are poorly understood. Molecular markers of an inflammatory process are found in most patients. Clinical presentation includes usual signs and symptoms of heart failure, and unusual presentations relating to thromboembolism. Clinicians should consider PPCM in any peripartum patient with unexplained disease. Conventional heart failure treatment includes use of diuretics, beta blockers, and angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors. Effective treatment reduces mortality rates and increases the number of women who fully recover left ventricular systolic function. Outcomes for subsequent pregnancy after PPCM are better in women who have first fully recovered heart function. Areas for future research include immune system dysfunction, the role of viruses, non-conventional treatments such as immunosuppression, immunoadsorption, apheresis, antiviral treatment, suppression of proinflammatory cytokines, and strategies for control and prevention.
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              Reproducibility and validity of maternal recall of pregnancy-related events.

              We assessed the reproducibility and validity of a questionnaire that asks mothers to recall pregnancy-related events from thirty or more years ago. Among 146 women who completed the questionnaire twice, responses were highly reproducible for pre-pregnancy height and weight (r = 0.95), pregnancy complications (r = 0.74), substance use (r = 0.80), preterm delivery (r = 0.82), birthweight (r = 0.94), and breastfeeding (r = 0.89). Among 154 women whose questionnaire responses were compared to data collected during their pregnancies, recall was highly accurate for height (r = 0.90), pre-pregnancy weight (r = 0.86), birthweight (r = 0.91), and smoking (sensitivity = 0.86, specificity = 0.94). These findings suggest that long-term maternal recall is both reproducible and accurate for many factors related to pregnancy and delivery.

                Author and article information

                BMC Pregnancy Childbirth
                BMC Pregnancy Childbirth
                BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth
                BioMed Central (London )
                8 December 2016
                8 December 2016
                : 16
                [1 ]Institute of Health and Care Sciences, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden
                [2 ]Department of Molecular and Clinical Medicine, Institute of Medicine, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden
                [3 ]School of Nursing and Midwifery, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin 2, Ireland
                [4 ]Centre for Person-Centred Care (GPCC), University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden
                © The Author(s). 2016

                Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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