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Original research article
Prevalence of heart failure and other risk factors among first-degree relatives of women with peripartum cardiomyopathy
  1. Mia Nielsen Christiansen1,
  2. Lars Køber1,
  3. Christian Torp-Pedersen2,
  4. J Gustav Smith3,
  5. Finn Gustafsson1,
  6. Niels G Vejlstrup1,
  7. Peter Damm4,
  8. Marianne Johansen4,
  9. Charlotte Andersson5,
  10. Anne S Ersbøll4
  1. 1 Department of Cardiology, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen University Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark
  2. 2 Department of Health, Science and Technology, Aalborg Universitetshospital, Aalborg, Denmark
  3. 3 Department of Cardiology, Lund University, Lund, Sweden
  4. 4 Department of Obstetrics, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen University Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark
  5. 5 Department of Cardiology, Gentofte Hospital, Hellerup, Denmark
  1. Correspondence to Dr Mia Nielsen Christiansen; mia_nielsen7{at}


Objectives Peripartum cardiomyopathy (PPCM) is a rare disease carrying a risk of death and chronic heart failure.It is unknown if women with PPCM have a family history of heart failure. We investigated the prevalence of heart failure and hypertension in first-degree relatives to women with PPCM.

Methods A cohort of 61 women with PPCM was identified through the nationwide Danish registers from 2005 to 2014, and each individual diagnosis of PPCM was validated through review of patient records. We excluded 13 women due to lack of data on relatives. In a case–control design, the 48 remaining women were matched (on age, year of childbirth, parity and number of siblings) to 477 birth-giving Danish women without heart failure. We obtained information on first-degree relatives (parents and siblings) through the National Danish Registers.

Results The cohort of 48 women with PPCM had a mean age of 31 years (SD 6). The prevalence of heart failure in any first-degree relative was higher in women with PPCM, compared with controls (23% vs 10%, p=0.011). A first-degree relative with any cardiovascular diagnosis was not more frequent in women with PPCM versus controls (77% vs 70%, p=0.280), but for siblings only, any cardiovascular diagnosis was more frequent in siblings to women with PPCM (29% vs 16%, p=0.026).

Conclusion Having a first-degree relative with heart failure was significantly more frequent in a cohort of validated PPCM cases than in controls, supporting the notion of shared aetiology between PPCM and other forms of heart failure.

  • heart failure
  • epidemiology
  • pregnancy

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  • Contributors Study concept and design: MNC, CA, LK and JGS. Acquisition, analysis or interpretation of data: all authors. Drafting of the manuscript: MNC. Critical revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content: all authors. Statistical analysis: MNC and CA. Administrative, technical or material support: CT-P, LK and ASE. Study supervision: CA, LK and ASE.

  • Funding The corresponding author MNC has received a grant from the Danish Heart Foundation and the Gangsted Foundation, which covered her salary.

  • Disclaimer The Danish Heart foundation and the Gangsted Foundation had no role in the design and conduct of the study, collection, management, analysis and interpretation of the data or preparation, review or approval of the manuscript.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval This study was approved by the Danish data protection agency (reference number GEH-2014–015 and I-Suite number 02733, and I-suite number 04729).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

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