Is 'broken heart syndrome' real?
2/26/2017 4:45 PM
Most of us have heard of a condition called “broken heart syndrome,” and it is a real occurrence. The medical name for broken heart syndrome is takotsubo cardiomyopathy. It describes a state in which the heart muscle gets stunned, so it doesn’t pump correctly. When this happens, symptoms similar to a heart attack occur such as shortness of breath, retention of fluid in the legs and chest pain.
Takotsubo cardiomyopathy is stress-induced. It can come about after losing a loved one, receiving bad news, going through a divorce or suffering any other traumatic event. When we have a patient in the cath lab, we can actually see when the heart muscle is not performing appropriately.
The most common abnormality of the condition is the ballooning of the lower part of the left ventricle. During contraction, this bulging ventricle resembles a tako-tsubo, a pot used by Japanese fishermen to trap octopuses. This is where the disorder gets its name.
Some things I recommend for people to keep their stress levels under control is to practice deep breathing, take a walk and enjoy companionship from pets and loved ones. Everyone should have stress relievers such as these to help them unwind each day.
“Broken heart syndrome” is almost 100 percent reversible. It is short-term, and symptoms usually disappear by themselves without having to do any type of intervention. Although it’s generally not fatal, it can cause other issues because the abnormal pumping of the heart can cause blood to remain in the muscle, which can lead to a major stroke if not treated correctly.
Chest pain and other cardiac symptoms should never be ignored. If you suspect something is wrong, get to the closest emergency room as soon as possible.
Click here to learn more about cardiac services at CTMC, and call (512) 575-2098 to schedule a $90 heart scan. A physician order is required.
About the Author
Roger DeHoyos, RN, BSN, is the director of Central Texas Medical Center's Cardiac Cath Lab and Cardiac Rehabilitation Program.