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December 31, 2009

BehindTheMedspeak: Broken Heart Syndrome

"Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, which is transient and typically precipitated by acute emotional stress, is also known as 'stress cardiomyopathy' or 'broken-heart syndrome,' stated the authors of a 2007 paper in the Texas Heart Institute Journal which described four patients who exhibited the condition.

Takotsubo is not the name of the Japanese physician who first described the syndrome; in Japanese, "tako" means "octopus" and "tsubo" means "fishing pot," so "tako-tsubo" means "fishing pot for trapping octopus."

The left ventricle of a patient diagnosed with this condition resembles that particular shape (below), hence the name.

The syndrome's etiology is still not well understood, but several mechanisms including transient vasospasm, microvascular dysfunction or wraparound left anterior descending artery (LAD) have been proposed.

While the original case reports emanated from Japan in the early 1990s, more recently an increase in cases in the U.S. and Europe has been noted, perhaps because the syndrome previously went unrecognized before being described in detail in the Japanese literature.

The syndrome has been diagnosed primarily in post-menopausal women, but the reason for this gender predominance is not yet known.

According to Wikipedia, "On English death certificates, doctors would write 'broken heart' as the cause of death if they died inexplicably following the death of a spouse."

December 31, 2009 at 12:01 PM | Permalink


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Oh, I bet there are more than a few post-menopausal women who could help them out with discovering the reason for that gender predominance. It doesn't take a rocket scientist.

Which made me think of this highly amusing, off-topic, Mitchell & Webb sketch:

While I'm at it, I found this one very amusing too:

Posted by: Flautist | Dec 31, 2009 6:22:34 PM

My mother actually has this following the death of my stepfather. Seems to be recovering, but very interesting post.

Posted by: Kathy | Dec 31, 2009 1:03:39 PM

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