Afriend recently spent a week in the hospital with what she was diagnosed as ‘broken heart syndrome’. What is it? Amita Shah, Rajkot
‘Broken heart syndrome’ is a common terminology for stress cardiomyopathy which is characterized by a transient dilatation of one chamber of the heart which actually mimics a heart attack but when you do a coronary angiogram, you do not find any evidence of blockages or plaque ruptures. The medical terminology for this is ‘Takotsubo’ which is taken from the Japanese name for an octopus trap, which is seen in the appearance of the heart in the 2D echocardiogram in this disorder. The reason for this has not been very well understood but it is known that it affects post-menopausal women disproportionately and it usually affects the left ventricle. The trigger for the onset of this condition is usually severe physical or emotional stress (example – death of a relative, severe arguments, devastating financial disaster etc). The treatment normally remains symptomatic once it is diagnosed and other conditions are ruled out.