A 34-year-old woman presented to the emergency department with severe dyspnoea 10 days following a normal-course caesarean delivery. She had been experiencing shortness of breath throughout the third trimester of pregnancy accompanied by tachycardia (110 bpm); however, her evaluation did not include ECG or chest radiography to elucidate the cause. Following delivery, chest radiography was performed demonstrating predominantly unilateral findings interpreted as pneumonia. ECG revealed T-wave inversion in leads V4–V6, which was unaddressed. Overnight she deteriorated and a chest CT angiography was performed demonstrating heart enlargement and pulmonary oedema. An echocardiogram established a diminished ejection fraction (EF) of 15–20%, suggesting the diagnosis of peripartum cardiomyopathy. She was treated with angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, spirinolactone and furosemide, and was free of symptoms the following month with an EF of 40–45%. Though uncommon, heart failure is a potentially fatal cause of peripartum dyspnoea, often misdiagnosed, meriting further attention.
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Competing interests None.
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