Featured Post: The Broken Heart Syndrome
Via The INDEPENDENT U.K (22:10:2014)
A broken heart can feel very real for those experiencing the loss of a loved one or significant other. But for some, the emotional stress does quite literally break their heart – at least temporarily – causing symptoms that can mimic a heart attack.
What is broken heart syndrome?
Broken heart syndrome is one of the many names for takotsubo cardiomyopathy, a rare and temporary condition where part of a person’s heart suddenly becomes weakened or 'stunned' - forcing the rest of the heart to work harder.
When this happens, the heart’s left ventricle changes shape, developing a narrow neck and round bottom.
The shape created by this bulging out earned the syndrome the name 'takotsubo', meaning octopus, in Japan where the condition was first reported.
The condition is also referred to as acute stress cardiomyopathy and apical ballooning syndrome.
What causes it?
There are various theories as to what causes the condition. About three quarters of those diagnosed with Takotsubo cardiomyopathy have experienced severe emotional or physical stress prior to becoming unwell, such as bereavement.
British Heart Foundation (BHF) says evidence suggests the sudden, excessive release of hormones – usually adrenaline - during these stressful periods causes the ‘stunning’ of part of the heart muscle.
Interestingly, research conducted by Imperial College London in 2012 found the condition may actually protect the heart from very high levels of adrenaline.
Professor Sian Harding, from the National Heart and Lung Institute (NHLI) at Imperial College London, who led the study, explained: “In patients with Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, adrenaline works in a different way and shuts down the heart instead. This seems to protect the heart from being overstimulated.”
What are the symptoms?
People experiencing takotsubo cardiomyopathy will often have chest pains and breathlessness similar to those seen in a heart attack, according to the British Heart Foundation (BHF).
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