An In-Depth Look at the Phenomenon Called Broken Heart Syndrome

By Trista
An In-Depth Look at the Phenomenon Called Broken Heart Syndrome

Broken Heart Syndrome is also known as Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy and stress-induced cardiomyopathy. This condition was first identified in Japan and is symptoms are somewhat similar to coronary syndrome; however, it is non-ischemic in etiology.

The name Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy is inspired by an octopus-trapping pot that was popularly used by Japanese fishermen. It is basically a condition where there is a sudden weakening of the heart due to extreme stress. The stress may be physical or emotional.

In the majority of cases, the strain was found to be emotional. While typically it is not a severe condition, there have been some fatal cases. In severe cases, patients have been reported constant and high-level of anxiety. It commonly affects postmenopausal women. 

It is a real health condition. Pixabay

The Discovery of Broken Heart Syndrome  

In 1991, a renowned Japanese scientist Sato was the first one to identify and describe this condition. But before him, others have noticed people dying on acute stress without having any physical injury. After Sato published his paper on this condition, several similar cases were noted over the decade. However, this condition of cardiomyopathy was an unknown concept in the western world. A majority of these reports were published in Japanese, contributing to the delay in people recognizing this syndrome outside Japan. 

In the year 1989, a study suggested the association between pheochromocytoma, an adrenal tumor, and reversible left vertical apical wall akinesis. This study underlined the connection between TCM and high catecholamine levels. Throughout the 1990s, studies and reports associated with this kept surfacing. In the year 1997, a paper was published that described reversible left ventricular dysfunction, which resulted from acute emotional stress. However, in 2001, the Japanese-authored report on this condition appeared in the Western Journal and titled it as transient left ventricular apical ballooning. 

On October 23, 2004, a massive earthquake with an intensity of 6.8 Richter scale was experienced in Niigata Prefecture, Japan. Within only a month of this natural disaster, over 16 people were diagnosed with TCM condition; a majority of them were older women, and 13 of them lived close to the epicenter. Around 11 people suffered from TCM on the day of the earthquake. 

It was not until February 2005 that the New England Journal of Medicine recognized this syndrome in its publication. This acknowledgment created a substantial opportunity for global recognition for broken heart syndrome. It paved the way for the exploration of neurohumoral as well as clinical characteristics of stress cardiomyopathy. The use of the word “broken heart syndrome” to identify people who have suffered this condition post the death of the loved gain global attention. This significantly increased the number of studies being conducted on TCM and post-October; it was reported that it existed across the world.