Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy can cause as much damage as a heart attack

13th November 2017

Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy can cause as much damage as a heart attack

It is thought that at least 3,000 adults in the UK a year suffer from ‘broken heart syndrome’ – or takotsubo – but the true number may be even higher.

The condition was first identified in Japan the 1990s and the term takotsubo means octopus pot, which describes the deformed shape of the heart. It is commonly triggered by bereavement and occurs when the stress of the event causes the heart muscle to become weak. Until now it was thought the damage was temporary and would eventually heal with time.

Joel Rose, Chief Executive at Cardiomyopathy UK said” One of the rarer forms of cardiomyopathy is called Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy. It is where the heart muscle suddenly balloons out of shape causing symptoms similar to a heart attack. It does seem that some people are more prone to this than others and that emotional stress can be one of the triggers that can cause the heart muscle to become stunned and weakened. Until now, it was thought damage was temporary but this research shows there are long lasting consequences which we need to find solutions for.”

Researchers from the University of Aberdeen followed 37 takotsubo patients for an average of two years. Using exercise testing and cardiac MRI scans, the team found that patients' heart function was often affected long after an event. Worryingly they also found patients had ongoing symptoms of heart failure similar to patients who have suffered a heart attack. The researchers said patients should be offered the same drugs as those whose hearts have been damaged by a heart attack.

Dr Dana Dawson, lead researcher at the University of Aberdeen, said: "It is becoming increasingly recognised that takotsubo is more common than we originally thought.

"This is the longest follow up study looking at the aftermath of takotsubo, and it clearly shows permanent ill-effects on the hearts in some of those who suffer from it. These patients are unable to perform physical exercise as well and fatigue more easily.

"Our research shows that takotsubo needs to be treated with same urgency as any other heart problem, and that patients may need ongoing treatment for these long term effects. Our next goal will be to identify suitable treatments."