MEDI-TRIVIA VOL. 3: IS BROKEN HEART SYNDROME REAL?
Yes, it is real! Broken Heart Syndrome is also known as "stress-induced cardiomyopathy or takotsubo cardiomyopathy" When we say cardiomyopathy, it is a disease on the heart muscle. The heart may become thick, rigid or enlarged. This was first described by the Japanese in year 1990 where patients presented with chest pain, elevated cardiac enzyme levels, have ST-segment elevation or in other words, it mimicked the acute coronary syndrome. But when the patients undergone cardiac angiography, it only showed a left ventricular apical ballooning and no significant coronary artery stenosis. That is why it is also called as "Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy" because tako tsubo in Japanese are octupus traps that resemble the pot-like shape of the stricken heart.
A. Angiogram of normal left ventricle in systole shows contraction of all myocardial segments.
B, Angiogram of left ventricle with takotsubo defect shows contraction of the base with akinesis of the apex.
[Source: Critical Care Nurse Journal]
This transient heart condition is often brought on by stressful situations such as death of a loved one or a terrible break up can be possible. People may experience a sudden chest pain like it's as if they are going to have a heart attack and shortness of breath. Woman are more likely experience broken heart syndrome and this may be caused by the heart's reaction to a surge of stress hormones. Stress hormones like the cortisol and adrenaline are elevated during stressful events can put your heart at risk.
It is reversible within a week or just a few weeks after from the onset of pain. The person should see a doctor when chest pain and shortness of breath already lasted more than a month for it can lead to a sever, short-heart failure. Complications may also be hypotension due to heart failure, back up fluid of lungs or pulmonary edema or disruptions of heart beat.