Women are nine times more likely to get takotsubo cardiomyopathy,

7th September 2015

Women are nine times more likely than men to get takotsubo cardiomyopathy (TTC) says a new study of 1,750 people with the disease.

The people, from America and Europe, are enrolled in the International Takotsubo Registry, set up in 2011 by a team of doctors at the Zurich Cardiovascular Centre in Switzerland.

The registry collects data on people with TTC to find out more about the physiological processes associated with disease, the patterns, causes, and effects of it, and its clinical course.

It is hoped the data will provide a better understanding of TTC to help improve management and treatment of the disease.

takotsubo cardiomyopathy

TTC, which is sometimes called broken heart syndrome, causes the heart to contract abnormally. It is called takotsubo, the Japanese word for an octopus pot, because the heart ‘s appearance resembles this shape.

When the condition was first reported in 1990, it was believed to be a largely harmless, transient disorder that affected mainly older women and seemed to be triggered by stressful events, such as the death of a spouse.

But the new study, from the registry figures and published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that one in ten had a serious cardiac event or stroke and around 1 in 20 died per year. The disease also affected men and younger women.

"Our work widens the spectrum of the characteristics of the disease," said researcher Dr Jelena Ghadri, from the Medical School of Hannover, Germany.

She said it was still largely a disorder of postmenopausal women with emotional stress, but younger women and men were also affected. Physical stress, such as diseases of the nervous system, were also common triggers.

TTC is often misdiagnosed because its symptoms, such as chest pain and shortness of breath, are similar to those of a heart attack. To identify the left ventricle shape characteristic of TTC, doctors need to perform a coronary angiography, but that isn’t often used, researchers said.

The angiography also showed that 15.3 percent of patients had evidence of coronary artery disease.

Takotsubo is commonly treated with beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors, and diuretics, but there are no formal recommendations to guide treatment. In their study, researchers observed that the use of ACE inhibitors and angiotensin-receptor blockers (ARBs) improved survival.