A broken heart has been blamed for many things, but is rarely listed as the cause of a heart attack…until Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy.
As you know, most heart attacks are the result of a clot (from sticky deposits of cholesterol) breaking off from the coronary arteries.
The lack of blood flow through the blocked arteries results in the heart muscle dying — hence the name “heart attack.”
But over the past few years, physicians have gained a better understanding of yet another form of heart attack. This unusual type does not involve rupturing plaques or blocked blood vessels.
It’s called Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy, or “Stress Cardiomyopathy.”
Japanese doctors, who were the first to describe this condition, named it “takotsubo” after a particular type of Japanese pot which is used to trap an octopus.
Really. Stay with me now…
The reason they named it Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy is because this disorder causes the heart to take on a distinctive shape that resembles said pot.
This condition was commonly believed to be caused by sudden emotional stress, such as the death of a child, and it was thought to be much less harmful than a typical heart attack.
And here’s the research:
A study cited in The New England Journal of Medicine reports on the work of physicians from the United States and Europe that studied 1,750 patients with Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy.
Interestingly, 90% of these cases occurred in women, and the women in this study were an average of 67 years old.
➡ The most common triggers of stress cardiomyopathy were physical (such as lung problems or infections), and the next most common cause was an emotional “shock.”
➡ Compared with people who had experienced a “typical” heart attack, patients with Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy were almost twice as likely to have a neurological or psychiatric disorder.
In contrast to the commonly held belief among doctors that Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy is less serious than other forms of heart attack, however, the rates of death in the hospital between Takotsubo and more “traditional” heart attacks were similar.
As awareness of this disease increases among physicians and patients, I suspect we’ll be recognizing many more cases of Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy in the future.
The condition certainly doesn’t seem to be as rare as was suspected, nor as harmless as had been believed.
Future research will be needed to decide the best care and medication choices for people with this disorder, for lowering their risk for future problems.
The link with neurological or psychiatric disorders, for me, is intriguing. It suggests that an important heart-mind connection is relevant, not only for Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy but possibly to other cardiac conditions as well.
It’s guaranteed to be a fascinating study.