Can a person die from a broken heart? “In most cases, probably not,” says Westchester Medical Center Cardiologist Dr. Alan Gass. “However, because the heart and the brain work so closely together there is a strong connection between our emotions and how our heart functions at any specific time. So stress, anger and depression can definitely play a role in overall heart health.”
Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, also known as transient apical ballooning or stress induced cardiomyopathy, is a type of temporary condition that results in a sudden weakening of the left ventricle—the chamber of the heart that pumps blood to the rest of the body. “This type of Cardiomyopathy is not associated with oxygen deprivation,” says Dr. Gass. “It is not uncommon for the condition to be triggered by emotional stress, such as the death of a loved one, an argument, a serious accident or other emotional stressors.” So, the condition is sometimes referred to as stress induced cardiomyopathy or broken heart syndrome.
The disorder was first noted in Japan in 1990. During evaluation of a patient, the hallmark bulging out of the left ventricle apex at the bottom of the heart was noted causing the heart to resemble a shape similar to that of a Japanese octopus trap called a tako-tsubo, (octopus pot) a round-bottomed, narrow-necked vessel used by Japanese fisherman to catch octopuses.
“Although the outward symptoms – chest pain, shortness of breath and palpitations, physical findings and electrocardiogram may look like a Myocardial Infarction (heart attack), the arteries in the heart are usually normal,” adds Dr. Gass. “History typically includes a recent stress related incident such as receiving very bad news or other emotionally stressful family or work-related incidents. And while this type of cardiomyopathy can be very serious, the good news is that most patients will recover very quickly with no long-term heart damage. Rarely, patients are sick enough to require advanced medical or mechanical therapies to support the circulation while the heart recovers.
To learn more about cardiomyopathy and other conditions affecting the heart, visit http://www.westchestermedicalcenter.com/heart .
About Westchester Medical Center
Spanning every adult and pediatric medical specialty Westchester Medical Center (WMC), the 895-bed regional medical system serving New York’s Hudson Valley region and beyond, encompassing a regional academic medical center, children’s hospital, community hospital, two inpatient behavioral health centers, homecare and numerous outpatient health and related services serves as a lifeline to the more than 3.5 million people in the Hudson Valley region and beyond. With a total workforce of 7,000 healthcare professionals including 1200 physicians, Westchester Medical Center is one of the region’s largest sources of employment and economic impact. From prevention to education and treatment, the physicians, health care staff and volunteers at Westchester Medical Center and our MidHudson Regional Hospital have a reputation as the region’s most advanced and innovative health care delivery system.