Harshida Patel, PhD, RN, APN, Senior Lecturer
Inst. Health Care & Science, Inst. of Health Care & Science, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden
The aim of this study was to describe and explore women’s experiences of symptoms in PPCM.
A triangulation of methods was performed comprising individual interviews with 19 women in Sweden with PPCM, and data were also collected from their medical records. Qualitative data from interviews were analysed by inductive content analysis, and quantitative data using descriptive statistics.
The meaning of onset and occurrence of symptoms is captured in the metaphor: being caught in a spider web, comprising the invasion of symptoms and feeling of helplessness. Symptoms related to PPCM started at gestational weeks 14-38 (median 32) and time from symptoms to diagnosis varied between 3–190 days (median 40). The physical symptoms were: shortness of breath, excessive fatigue and swelling, bloatedness, tachycardia, nausea, but also palpitation, coughing, chest tightness, bodily pain, headache, fever, tremor, dizziness, syncope, restless and tingly body and oliguria. Emotional symptoms were: fear, anxiety, feelings of panic, and thoughts of impending death.
Symptoms of PPCM are debilitating, exhausting and frightening for women. Health care professionals, especially midwives, should be equipped with the skills needed to identify PPCM for early referral to a specialist. More research to elaborate midwives’ knowledge and attitude about PPCM is essential.
Peripartum Cardiomyopathy; Pregnancy; Heart disease; Symptoms; Qualitative methods; Content analysis; Childbirth
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