Breathlessness, chest pain? It may be Takotsubo syndrome

Takotsubo syndrome

The Takotsubo syndrome is also referred to as broken heart syndrome. Not much is still known about it. It can be called an acute and sudden kind of heart failure and its symptoms are fairly similar to heart attack. It is otherwise referred to as Takotsubo cardiomyopathy. It is also referred to by other names such as acute stress-induced cardiomyopathy as well as apical ballooning. In this disease, the heart muscle gets weakened all of a sudden – it is a lot similar to being stunned. In this disease, the left ventricle changes shape as well. The left ventricle is one of the chambers of the human heart.
This, in turn, has an impact on the ability of your heart to send blood to various other organs of the body.


It is not really that easy to state definitely the number of people who are being affected by this disease. The major reason for that is the fact that it is only in the past couple of years that this disease has been recognized widely as such. The general thought regarding this disease is that it is rare. However, certain data also suggests that it could account for as much as 6 to 7 percent of all heart attacks.
In most cases, people do recover from such ailments but in at least 4 percent of these cases the patients die in the hospital itself.

First identification

It was in 1990 that this disease was identified for the first time. The word Takotsubo comes from a Japanese word that stands for octopus pot. This pot has a special shape, which the left ventricle starts to resemble when it suffers from this disease.


As has been stated before, the symptoms and signs of Takotsubo are pretty much the same as a heart attack. You experience pain in the chest, collapse, and become breathless.
If you experience such issues you need to get in touch with medical personnel as soon as you can. If you see someone else with the same symptoms you need to get help as well.

Why does it happen?

This syndrome normally happens in case of individuals who have suffered a really high amount of physical and mental stress. However, there are some cases in which there is no such definite trigger. Science also does not have any definite answer in this regard as well. At present, scientists are making attempts to find out the relation between emotional signals that a brain receives and your heart muscles.
They are trying to determine how these entities interact with each other. One such theory states that when one is exposed to an event that can cause emotional trauma she or he can experience an increase in levels of adrenaline. The levels reach such a head that can be bad for the concerned person.

How is it diagnosed?

At the initial stage, patients are asked to undergo blood and electrocardiogram (ECG) tests. It is these tests that confirm whether the concerned person has suffered a heart attack or not.
However, when in these cases the doctors look at the arteries of heart they do not find any sign of a blockage as they would find normally following an instance of a heart attack. Rather than that, the doctors will discover that the heart muscles are just not working the proper way. They would also see that the left ventricle has become bigger than what it should be. It is then that the doctor needs to talk to the patient regarding any happening that may have led to such a situation. As has been said already, any event that may lead to immense trauma – mental or physical – may lead to such a situation.

How can this be treated?

As such, there is no specific medicine that is supposed to help in such a situation, especially when the syndrome reaches an acute phase. Similarly, there is also no medicine that may prevent a recurrence of the same. Heart attacks normally have to be treated within a short span of time so that the damage suffered by the heart can be addressed and limited adequately. This is the reason why Takotsubo syndrome is also initially regarded as a case of heart attack. This condition has been recognized only briefly and as such doctors have to understand its mechanisms a lot better so that it can be treated properly enough.

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