Plasma concentrations of atrial natriuretic peptide and aldosterone and plasma renin activity were measured in patients with peripartum heart failure and in age matched healthy women post partum. Both groups had carried out traditional postpartum practices of salt consumption and body heating. Plasma concentrations (mean (SEM)) of atrial natriuretic peptide were significantly higher in the seven patients with peripartum heart failure (146.9 (24.3) pg/ml) than in the seven controls (4.4 (0.8) pg/ml). Both plasma aldosterone and plasma renin activity were suppressed in the patients with peripartum heart failure. After treatment for the heart failure plasma atrial natriuretic peptide fell considerably and there were associated increases in plasma aldosterone and plasma renin activity. The high plasma concentrations of atrial natriuretic peptide may have been a compensatory response to salt and water retention as well as to the heart failure. These high concentrations could also, in part, have suppressed the release of aldosterone and renin in an attempt to correct for volume overload.
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