Covid-19, HEALTH AND WELLBEING, PREGNANCY, SELF-CARE

HOW’S YOUR HEART THIS VALENTINES DAY?

@cardiomyopathyuk hashtag #beatingfortwo

What is Peripartum Cardiomyopathy?

Peripartum cardiomyopathy (or PPCM) happens during pregnancy, usually starting between the final month of pregnancy and the first five months after giving birth. In PPCM the woman’s heart becomes enlarged and its pumping action weakened. 

PPCM is similar to dilated cardiomyopathy, in that it affects the left ventricle of the heart. This is the main pumping chamber of the heart: pumping blood out of the heart and to the rest of the body. Normally the left ventricle pumps blood out of the heart efficiently, with enough pressure to reach all areas of the body. In PPCM, the left ventricle chamber becomes enlarged. As the ventricle becomes bigger than normal, the muscular wall becomes stretched and thinner. This makes the muscle weaker which, in turn, means that it works less well. 

Why is it important now, in the midst of a pandemic?

Even without the pandemic it’s an issue that was overlooked, despite the damage it can cause to women and their families. Symptoms are often missed or misdiagnosed. But when you add the pandemic lens, people are less vigilant as their focus is on Covid symptoms, and are less likely to seek medical help. Because awareness of the condition is currently so low, opportunities to detect and treat PPCM early are being missed, and as a result, women’s lives are being put at risk. 

75% of people mistake symptoms of heart conditions as ‘normal’ during and after pregnancy 

Cardiomyopathy UK urges the public and healthcare professionals to recognise cardiac symptoms in women and take action to cut maternal deaths

  • 70% of people are unaware of serious heart conditions that can develop during and after pregnancy 
  • 75% of people think common cardiac symptoms are ‘normal’ to experience during and after pregnancy 
  • 55% would be more cautious about seeking medical help as a result of concerns over Covid-19
  • Cardiomyopathy UK launches Beating for Two to raise awareness of serious heart conditions, like peripartum cardiomyopathy, that develop during and after pregnancy

Cardiomyopathy UK has launched its new campaign, Beating for Two, to raise awareness of the potentially life-threatening heart muscle disease, peripartum cardiomyopathy (PPCM), which can develop during the last part of, or in the first few months after, pregnancy. 

New research commissioned by the charity shows the majority of people (70%) are unaware that serious heart conditions such as PPCM can develop during and after pregnancy. And in a small survey of patients and the family of those who have been diagnosed with PPCM, prior to diagnosis, 98% were unaware that serious heart conditions can occur during and after pregnancy. 

While people are better at spotting more obvious cardiac symptoms such as chest pain and heart palpitations, three quarters (75%) of those surveyed think common cardiac symptoms are ‘normal’ during and after pregnancy, and 66% wouldn’t seek medical help if they were to experience them.

Some of the less obvious cardiac symptoms, which often get overlooked but could signal a serious heart problem, such as PPCM, include:

  • tiredness completing everyday tasks
  • shortness of breath when at rest or lying down
  • sudden swelling of the ankles
  • excessive and rapid weight gain 

Top reasons people gave for not seeking medical help if they or a loved one were experiencing PPCM symptoms include ‘assuming the symptoms are ‘normal’ during pregnancy’ (58%), ‘assuming symptoms will go away on their own’ (32%), ‘fear of being viewed as overreacting or fussy’ (29%) – something which is higher in women than men (32% to 26%) – and ‘feeling guilty for using the NHS’s time’ (24%). 

The campaign is timely and of paramount importance as the data shows the pandemic has had an impact on people’s behaviour, with 55% saying that because pregnant women are in a higher risk category, they would be more cautious about seeking medical help as a result of concerns over Covid-19.

Cardiovascular disease is the most common cause of maternal death in the UK, with PPCM accounting for one-third of cardiovascular maternal deaths. However, because awareness of the condition is low, opportunities to detect and treat the condition early are being missed, and as a result, women’s lives are being put at risk.

When showing concern over symptoms, 45% of those in the Patient Survey who have been diagnosed with PPCM, were told symptoms were ‘normal’ during and after pregnancy.

Through its Beating for Two campaign, Cardiomyopathy UK wants to make it easier for women and their families to spot the signs of PPCM, and to feel confident seeking medical help sooner.

Survey respondents indicated that, if they knew more about which symptoms were ‘normal’ and ‘not normal’ during and after pregnancy, 66% would feel more confident raising concerns with a healthcare professional. 

The charity also wants healthcare professionals to ‘think heart’ when considering symptoms, and to ask about history of medical problems that run in the family to ensure PPCM symptoms are not being mistaken as ‘normal’.

Joel Rose, Chief Executive of Cardiomyopathy UK, says:

“During pregnancy, an expectant mother’s heart is put under additional pressure as it adapts to keeping two humans alive. This incredible organ is beating for two, but we don’t always give it the recognition and attention it deserves. While PPCM is thankfully rare, its effects can be devastating if left undetected. 

“However, the condition is completely manageable if caught early and most women who are diagnosed live healthy and fulfilling lives. 

“We know women often put their needs to the bottom of the priorities list, but we urge people to trust their instincts and to watch for signs that their heart might be struggling to cope, during pregnancy and after birth. 

“If you feel that something isn’t right speak to your GP, midwife or health visitor.” 

Cardiomyopathy UK is working hard to ensure better recognition of the symptoms so that every woman with PPCM is diagnosed in time to manage the condition safely.

Sascha Wells-Munroe OBE, Deputy Chief Midwifery Officer for England, says: 

“It is vital that any woman with any cause for concern about her or her baby’s health speak to their midwife or maternity team without delay. It can be easy to think that symptoms like tiredness or shortness of breath are ‘normal’ but, no matter how big or small a symptom might be, please seek advice – the NHS is here for you. 

“Alongside our NHS ‘Help Us Help You’ maternity resources, campaigns like Cardiomyopathy UK’s ‘Beating for Two’ provide critical reminders that it’s just as important as ever to seek help from maternity services and it’s so crucial that women and healthcare professionals alike ‘think heart’ to make sure no opportunities to keep women and babies safe and healthy are missed.”

For more advice and information about the signs and symptoms to look for, and what is ‘normal’ and what is not during and after pregnancy, visit: http://bit.ly/2YmaUF4

About Cardiomyopathy UK

Cardiomyopathy UK is the national charity for people affected by the heart muscle diseases cardiomyopathy and myocarditis. We provide support and information services, work to raise awareness of the condition, campaign for better access to quality treatment and promote research.

Stay Present,

Em x

Photo by Suhyeon Choi on Photo by Marcin Jozwiak on Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Photo by Giulia Bertelli on Photo by SJ Objio on Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

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LOVED UP OR LONELY THIS VALENTINES DAY?

LOVED UP OR LONELY THIS VALENTINES DAY?

BOO HOO!!!

It’s that time of year again that loved up hopeless romantic’s love, and lonely singletons loathe – Valentine’s Day!

But whether you’re single, in the honeymoon period of a new relationship, or have been married for years, there’s one person that deserves your love more than anyone else – YOU!

‘You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection.’ Buddha


You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection.’ Buddha

IF YOU HAVEN’T GOT ANYTHING NICE TO SAY, SAY IT ANYWAY!

Over the years as we grow up, we start listening to other people’s opinions about us, and any criticism received we tend to remember.

Then when things go wrong or we make mistakes, we tell ourselves that others peoples negative views were right. We then add to them by mentally berating ourselves, turning other people’s false opinions of us, into self -fulfilling prophecies i.e. a reality.

But we can all be more loving towards ourselves. By remembering that any criticism from another person is just their opinion. And as long as we don’t believe it and join in with the hate campaign, then it’s not true.

This means not ruminating over or joining in with that negative mental chatter that goes on in our own minds, that never seems to shut up!

Instead practice talking to yourself lovingly. Affirmations are a great way to practice loving yourself more, they are simply positive statements said in the present tense.

For example, whenever you make a mistake, instead of calling yourself ‘Stupid!’

Reassure yourself that you are always doing your best and say;

‘I am doing the best that I can at this time, and my best is always good enough’

And repeat this affirmation often.

You can say it quietly in your mind or you can proclaim it out loud, whatever makes you feel the most comfortable?

But never underestimate the power of your words on your subconscious mind, affirmations work!

PHYSICAL ATTRACTION

It’s a good idea to take loving care of our physical bodies too.

After all, its the only body that we will ever own?

If we can start to notice the good parts of our body, more than the bits we don’t like, then we can learn to love the skin we are in.

Take a look at your body each morning in the mirror and focus on the bits you love.

You might have nice legs or a nice smile?

Whatever you like focus on that. The more you can love and accept yourself exactly as you are today, the more likely you are to attract someone who also loves you as you are.

And the more inclined you will be to take care of your physically body. That means if there’s bits you dislike now, then in the future with time and loving care, they will soon change for the better.

Focusing on our negative aspects only makes us feel worse about ourselves. And when we don’t feel good, we are more inclined to poison ourselves with alcohol, cigarettes, drugs and junk food.

LOVE FOOD & FOOD WILL LOVE YOU

If we can form a healthy, loving, relationship with food too.

Such as choosing to eat healthy, nutritious, natural foods, like fresh fruit and vegetables, lean meat and fish, and drinking plenty of water.

Then food will love us back.

If we eat well then food will give us energy and nutrients to keep us slim and trim. If we constantly eat junk food however, we will gain excess weight through empty calories and will feel tired, sluggish, and irritable.

WORK YOUR BODY

When we act and feel this way as well as looking and feeling unfit, we can lack health and vitality, and may find it hard to really love ourselves.

To burn calories, increase our energy levels and release feel good chemicals in our bodies, then we need to keep as active as we can, on a daily basis.

Our bodies are designed to move about, so move whenever you can.

You don’t need to go to the gym to keep fit, just move.

Doing house work, walking the dog, dancing, playing with the children, all burn calories. So, we have no excuse not to get up and get going now!

Your body will love you for it!

MAKE A DATE WITH YOURSELF

No Valentine to take you to the cinema?

Then go it alone, or make time for yourself to do those things you love that simply make ‘YOU’ happy.

A soak in a bubble bath with a magazine, a cuppa and a good book, painting, fishing, football, knitting, whatever you choose to do, schedule time in your diary to prioritise YOU Time!

TREAT YOURSELF

A treat once in a while can make us feel good!

You may not have a partner to spoil you this Valentine’s Day?

But you are still worth treating, so spoil yourself.

A treat once in a while can make us feel good.

So, go and buy yourself some chocolate, perfume, aftershave, flowers, beer or bubbly and a take- away, and curl up on the sofa with yourself.

This way at least someone loves you. And you’ll never leave you if you love yourself right.

And once you truly love yourself, others will love you too!

HAPPY VALENTINES DAY EVERYONE!