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Under the microscope: Takotsubo cardiomyopathy

Under the microscope This month: Takotsubo cardiomyopathy

What happens with takotsubo cardiomyopathy?

Your heart muscle becomes suddenly weakened. The left ventricle, gets larger and changes shape, meaning it doesn’t pump blood to the rest of the body as well as it should.

So it gives you a broken heart?

Funny you should say that, as the condition is commonly known as “broken heart syndrome” as the weakening and failing often happen suddenly after an emotional or stressful event, such as bereavement.

Has this been in the news?

Swiss researchers have been studying people with this rare condition and have reported their findings in the European Heart Journal. Dr Jelena Ghadri and colleagues at University Hospital Zurich looked at what was happening in the brains of 15 patients with broken heart syndrome.

What did they find?

Brain scans showed up noticeable differences in comparison to scans from 39 healthy, control patients. There was less communication between brain regions involved with controlling emotions and unconscious or automatic body responses, such as heartbeat.

What does that mean?

It is conceivable that the disease originates in the brain and has a “top-down” influence on the heart.

It proves that, doesn’t it?

Because scans of the patients’ brains before they developed broken heart syndrome were not available, the exact pathway can’t be understood – it can’t be known if the decreased communication between brain regions caused the takotsubo cardiomyopathy, or vice versa.


Image credit | iStock

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