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Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy

  Also known as broken heart syndrome

Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, also known as transient apical ballooning, apical ballooning cardiomyopathy,  stress-induced cardiomyopathy, broken-heart-syndrome and simply stress cardiomyopathy, is a type of non-ischemic cardiomyopathy in which there is a sudden temporary weakening of the myocardium (the muscle of the heart). Because this weakening can be triggered by emotional stress, such as the death of a loved one, the condition is also known as broken heart syndrome.

broken heart syndrome pic


The typical presentation of someone with takotsubo cardiomyopathy is a sudden onset of congestive heart failure or chest pain associated with EKG changes suggestive of an anterior wall myocardial infarction. During the course of evaluation of the patient, a bulging out of the left ventricular apex with a hypercontractile base of the left ventricle is often noted. It is the hallmark bulging out of the apex of the heart with preserved function of the base that earned the syndrome its name "tako tsubo", or octopus trap in Japan, where it was first described. It is thus named because of the popular Japanese myth that an octopus farmer once fell in love with one of his octopi, and upon being spurned he died of a broken heart. The cause appears to involve high circulating levels of catecholamines (mainly adrenaline/epinephrine). Evaluation of individuals with takotsubo cardiomyopathy typically include a coronary angiogram, which will not reveal any significant blockages that would cause the left ventricular dysfunction. Provided that the individual survives their initial presentation, the left ventricular function improves within 2 months. Takotsubo cardiomyopathy is more commonly seen in post-menopausal women. Often there is a history of a recent severe emotional or physical stress.

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