Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy: The Broken Heart Syndrome

Can heartbreaks physically hurt? Science answers it’s possible, and in worse cases, it even leads to a medical condition called takotsubo cardiomyopathy. This occurs when the left ventricle weakens and fails to pump enough blood.

In 1990, a Japanese specialist coined the term for this. Takotsubomeans “octopus trap” because it resembles the ventricle’s balloon shape when it’s afflicted. Today, the disorder is recognized worldwide and known through different names, with the most popular one being the broken heart syndrome. Here’s more information about it.

Causes and Risks

While a broken heart is typically associated with pain from romantic relationships, takotsubo cardiomyopathy can also result from other causes. Many stressful situations that induce extreme emotions can trigger this. They include unexpected losses, the sudden death of loved ones, excessive fright, and natural disaster experiences.

It’s still unclear why heightened emotions prompt this condition, but experts theorize that the stress hormones trigger changes in the muscles, coronary blood vessels, or both. They also found out that postmenopausal women and those with a history of psychiatric or neurological disorders are at a higher risk. Other factors include opiate withdrawal and excessive cocaine and stimulant drug use.

Symptoms and Complications

The symptoms of takotsubo cardiomyopathy are highly similar to those of a heart attack. These include chest pain, irregular beating, breathing difficulties, and loss of consciousness. Other signs to watch out for are palpitations, nausea, weakness, sweating, and vomiting.

Most patients recover from these symptoms in a short time, but some have complications, such as:

  • Backward blood flow in the heart
  • Clot formation leading to stroke
  • Fluid backup into the lungs
  • Low blood pressure

Since takotsubo cardiomyopathy is difficult to differentiate from a heart attack and can lead to serious complications, promptly seeking medical help is recommended.

Diagnosis and Treatments

Doctors conduct various diagnosis procedures, including an electrocardiogram (ECG). It’s an imaging test that shows abnormalities in the left ventricle. Through it, practitioners can also check if the pain is due to takotsubo cardiomyopathy or a heart attack. If there are obstructions in the coronary arteries and the cardiac biomarkers rise slower but peak higher, chances are the symptoms result from the latter.

Other examinations that healthcare professionals perform include chest X-rays, blood tests, and echocardiograms. They also administer cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) if the ECG results aren’t enough to make a diagnosis.

Most patients need to be monitored in the hospital for at least 24 hours to ensure there are no complications. The treatments vary depending on the severity of symptoms, but the common ones include medications, intravenous fluids, and oxygen therapy. Physicians can also administer interventions for triggering health conditions.

Extreme emotions resulting from breakups and other intense situations trigger stress hormones and can lead to takotsubo cardiomyopathy. Those who exhibit symptoms after difficult experiences should go to a cardiology center in Suffolk County, NY, to have themselves checked right away. With the help of trusted physicians, they can get accurate diagnoses and proper care for their hearts.