Doctors Unravel Mysteries of Heart Failure During Pregnancy

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New Work "Quite Brilliant" Says Longtime Expert in the Field

Dr. James D. Fett, of Lacey, Wash., co-director of the Peripartum Cardiomyopathy Network (PCN), a network of U.S. and Canadian doctors and nurses treating and researching the disorder, called the new report "quite brilliant."

"We have, for a long time, suspected a genetic predisposition for the development PPCM; this report may explain why some women are genetically predisposed," Fett told ABCNews.com.

He suggested that in some patients, an additional trigger working in concert with genes could be a virus that destroys heart muscle. He also noted that about 5 percent of patients with pregnancy-related heart failure suffer from familial dilated cardiomyopathy, for which "some genes have been identified."

Fett, who has been studying pregnancy-related heart failure for more than 25 years, said he was part of an effort to develop a North American disease registry for PPCM, which he called "a great concern for many, and dangerous in some."

The findings appear in today's online issue of the journal Nature.

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