Stress can trigger Tako Tsubo syndrome


Severe psychological stress can trigger Tako-Tsubo syndrome. The course of the disease can be so severe that some patients even die from the consequences.

Psychological stress and violent physical exertion can trigger serious heart diseases. In Germany alone, hundreds of people had already contracted the sometimes fatal “Tako Tsubo Syndrome”. Translated this disease is called "broken heart syndrome". Physicians also call the syndrome "stress cardiomyopathy". Older women in particular are affected by the still relatively unknown and rare syndrome.

Connections of the syndrome
For the first time, Japanese scientists investigated the exact context of the syndrome in 1991. The disease was named after a round clay pot with a narrow neck, which was formerly used to catch squid in East Asia. As the researchers found, as a result of the syndrome, the left ventricle can deform as well as a clay pot. The heart base expands like a balloon after every pumping action of the heart. Because the exit is constricted like a bottle neck, too little blood gets into the main artery. The electrocardiogram (EKG) then shows typical changes that occur during a heart attack, explains the cardiologist and cardiologist Dr. Birke Schneider from the Sana Clinic in Lübeck. However, unlike an infarction, the coronary arteries show no typical narrowing in a catheter examination.

Symptoms of heart disease.
Between 2006 and 2099, the "Tako-Tsubo syndrome" was diagnosed in 324 people in Germany. Since 2006 the working group of leading cardiological hospital doctors has collected cases of this type from a total of 37 hospitals. The first symptoms of the disease are typical of a heart attack. The patients complained of severe chest pain, shortness of breath and fear. Some patients pass out, others even have to be resuscitated. About 2.2 percent of those affected died as a result of the attack. Serious cardiac arrhythmia occurred in around 9 percent of the patients.

Older women are particularly affected.
Older women in particular seem to be particularly affected. About nine out of ten patients were women. The average age of the patients is 68 years of age. It was striking that in most cases a strong emotional or physical strain was the cause of the syndrome. Emotional stress, such as a violent argument or the death of a close person, was very often the main cause at 36 percent. Stressful situations such as accidents or medical interventions (operations) were just as common. In some patients, other symptoms, such as a previous asthma attack, were the cause of the heart attack. It also happened that joyful events, such as winning the lottery, were a trigger. Only 23 percent of those affected could not find an original reason.

Dr. Birke Schneider suspects in the specialist magazine "DMW Deutsche Medical Wochenschrift" that a lot of stress hormones are released from the adrenal gland in case of excessive physical or psychological stress. In particular, excessive levels of the body's own catecholamines such as adrenaline and norepinephrine were observed in the patients. For this reason, beta-blockers and stress avoidance are prescribed in the treatment. (sb, 10/16/2010)

Also read:
Heart attack is a typical male illness
Heart attack risk higher in East Germany

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Video: Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy


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