Women with pregnancy cardiomyopathy experience indifference from medical staff

22nd December 2016

Women in Sweden have reported similar experiences of pregnancy-related cardiomyopathy to their counterparts in the UK.

The uncommon condition, called peripartum cardiomyopathy, occurs at the end of pregnancy or soon after birth and can be associated with severe heart failure, causing debilitating and exhausting symptoms.

The researchers interviewed 19 women who reported exacerbated suffering relating to failing health symptoms, but most of all in relation to not being taken seriously and adequately cared for by their doctors and nurses.

The women reported ‘not being cared about’, ‘not being cared for’ and ‘not feeling secure.’

They said they felt they were on an assembly line in midwives’ routine work where knowledge about peripartum cardiomyopathy was lacking. They felt they experienced negligence and indifference from their medical teams. Feelings of being alone and lost were prominent and related to a sense of insecurity, distress and uneasiness.

The researchers, led by Dr Harshida Patel from the Institute of Health and Care Sciences, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, said the study showed a knowledge gap of peripartum cardiomyopathy in maternity care staff.

“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.”

Cardiomyopathy UK has organised and contributed to medical conferences to improve expertise in the medical profession around cardiomyopathy and pregnancy.