Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, also known as broken heart syndrome, has symptoms very similar to a heart attack, with chest pain, shortness of breath and low blood pressure.

What is takotsubo cardiomyopathy?

Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, also known as broken heart syndrome, is a weakening of the left ventricle, which is the heart’s main pumping chamber.

This condition has symptoms very similar to a heart attack with chest pain, shortness of breath, and low blood pressure. The condition is diagnosed with an electrocardiogram (ECG) and displays signs which would normally indicate a heart attack.

This condition is found almost exclusively in women 50 years and older, and almost always occurs following a stressful event. The difference between takotsubo and a heart attack is that there are no blockages in the coronary arteries.

What are the symptoms of takotsubo cardiomyopathy?

Symptoms of takotsubo cardiomyopathy are similar to a heart attack. Common symptoms include:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Collapsing
  • Low blood pressure

In some cases, people may experience palpitations, nausea and vomiting.

What causes takotsubo cardiomyopathy?

The reason for developing this syndrome is unclear. It often follows a stressful event such as:

  • Domestic violence
  • Death of a loved one
  • Unexpected loss or injury
  • Financial loss
  • Receiving bad news

What treatment is available for takotsubo cardiomyopathy? 

Because there is weakening of the left ventricle, medication such as beta blockers, ACE inhibitors and diuretics are often prescribed.

Full recovery usually occurs within one to two months, although heart failure can occur in about 20 per cent of cases. This can be treated with diuretics and other medication.

Resources

The following resources have information about the causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment for takotsubo cardiomyopathy: