With broken heart syndrome, the heart has trouble pumping blood normally. A chamber of the heart swells up like a small balloon. Broken heart syndrome is also called stress-induced cardiomyopathy or takotsubo cardiomyopathy (say "TACK-uh-zoo-boh kar-dee-oh-my-AWP-uh-thee").
Broken heart syndrome causes the same symptoms as a heart attack, but it's not a heart attack. Some of the most common symptoms are:
Other symptoms may include:
A heart attack happens when one or more of the coronary arteries is blocked. These arteries supply the heart muscle with blood. When blood flow is blocked, part of the heart muscle may be permanently damaged. But in broken heart syndrome, the arteries are not blocked. There is usually no permanent damage to the heart.
Broken heart syndrome is often triggered by great emotional stress, such as grief after losing a loved one. It can also be triggered by physical stress, such as being in the hospital for surgery.
Sometimes it's not known what triggers broken heart syndrome.
Because symptoms are the same as a heart attack, you probably had tests to make sure you did not have a heart attack. These tests include:
You may be in intensive care for a short time. You may stay in the hospital for a few days. After you leave the hospital, you may have some more tests. These tests are to check how well your heart is pumping blood.
You will likely take medicines for a short time to help your heart muscle recover. These may include medicines that make it easier for your heart to pump blood. Some people may need to take medicines long-term.
In most people, the heart starts pumping normally again within a few days or weeks. For some people, it can take several months to return to normal.
There is usually no permanent damage to the heart. Most people who have an episode of broken heart syndrome don't have another. But there is a small chance that broken heart syndrome can happen again.
Sometimes the condition can lead to more serious problems such as heart failure or heart rhythm problems.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
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Current as of: May 3, 2016
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
& Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Stephen Fort, MD, MRCP, FRCPC - Interventional Cardiology
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