The Uganda heart institute has embarked on a study to investigate the cause of yet another worrying type of heart condition the Peripartum Cardiomyopathy that has been reported among pregnant women.
In an interview with NBS TV The President World Heart Federation Prof. Karen Sliwa, the number of patients reported to have the disease is on the rise across the country.
Peripartum cardiomyopathy also known as postpartum cardiomyopathy, is an uncommon form of heart failure that happens during the last month of pregnancy or up to five months after giving birth and a heart Muscle Disease.
According to Prof. Karen Sliwa the President of World Heart Foundation, the cases are common and increasing.
“When you have this heart problem, during pregnancy your legs get swollen, you get water in your tummy.”
Dr John Omagino the Director Uganda Heart institute adds that most of these cases are recorded in the last months of pregnancy or during breastfeeding.
“Pregnancy is not a disease, when you see a young lady struggling with too much difficulty this is not normal.”
The Uganda Heart Institute in Mulago is set to conduct a survey to find out how many women in Uganda could be at risk.
“We are beginning to quantify this; we have 500 women to assess from hospitals in Kampala we await the results.”
There are approximately 1.5 million babies born in Uganda every year and approximately 15,000 of those children have heart defects with about 7500 in need of treatment.
Prof Karen adds that the condition is treatable, unfortunately many health workers and patients do not know about it.
“If you often become short of breath when pregnant, you can’t walk even 100 meters, you need to worry, you need to see a nurse.”
However, the facility is stuck with about 500 patients in need of surgery. Even when the facility is equipped to handle the numbers, they are running on a low budget.
“We have to capacity to diagnose but we are limited by space and operational budget,” Omagino said.
“Our budget is only Shs 13 billion, we need Shs 10b more to perform, parliament even took a decision to avail us this money, but even this year we don’t see it coming,” he added.
While the facility has cut down genuine referrals abroad for medication to four last years, the Uganda Heart Institute is indebted to a tune of Ssh1 billion that was spent on supplies.
What is peripartum cardiomyopathy?
Peripartum cardiomyopathy is a rare type of heart failure. It occurs during pregnancy or immediately after delivery. The condition weakens the heart muscle and causes the heart to become enlarged. As a result, the heart can’t pump blood properly to the rest of the body.
What causes it?
Your heart pumps up to 50 percent more blood during pregnancy. This is because you have to transfer oxygen and vital nutrients to your growing baby. There’s no definitive cause of peripartum cardiomyopathy. However, doctors believe this condition occurs when the extra pumping of blood combines with other risk factors. This combination places additional stress on the heart.
Who is at risk?
According to healthline.com, a health site, women who are obese are highly likely to suffer from this complication, as well as those who are above 30 years of age. Among others that could lead to the risk include; High blood pressure, diabetes and smoking.