Overview of Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy

What is it?

Also known as “Broken-Heart Syndrome”, Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy (TCM) is a condition where your heart muscle becomes temporarily weakened or stunned.

It is often known as Broken Heart Syndrome due to it often occurring after a period of intense emotional and physical stress and the cardiomyopathy (as well potential heart failure) aspect of the name is that your heart’s left ventricle (the main pumping chamber) is impacted, causing blood not to pump properly in your heart.

The condition is named after the Takotsubo pots which the Japanese have used to trap octopi.

When this condition was first identified in Japan in the 1990s, the change of shape of the left ventricle (your heart’s main pumping chamber) was compared to these pots.

Whilst this condition is considered temporary in terms of the changes to your heart, new research is suggesting that there will be longer term heart-failure side effects for sufferers, which will be discussed below under what are the long-term implications.

What Is Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy

Statistics

Due to TCM being a relatively new condition, statistics for Australian women are still in the making. The condition is thought to mostly affect older women; however, men too can be affected at any age range.

Research suggests that older women are more likely to develop TCM after menopause due to the loss of oestrogen, as oestrogen can play an important role in protecting your heart.

In the United states as well as the continent of Europe, there are estimates that between 50,000-100,000 cases per year of TCM, with one Swedish study suggesting that each case in the country had a burden of around €10,000 ($16,000) per person to the healthcare system.

Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy Causes

Causes

The causes of TCM can be suggested to be both emotional and physical triggers. Here is a list of some of the suggested triggers for TCM:

Sudden Emotional Stress

  • Death of someone close to you such as your partner, family member or a pet
  • Loss of job, money or income
  • Mental illness such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, associated feelings when someone you care for is ill
  • Life changes such as a new job or moving to a new city or location

Physical

  • Giving birth
  • Cancer Treatment
  • Exacerbation of chronic illness
  • Flu
  • Infection
  • Migraines
  • Seizures

Symptoms

Signs and Symptoms

The acute signs and symptoms of TCM mimic those of a Heart Attack, which are:

  • Acute chest pain
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Fainting, dizziness, feeling light-headed

We recommend that if you experience these symptoms you call an ambulance. In Australia this number is 000.

The less acute signs and symptoms associated with TCM are:

  • Nausea
  • Feeling unwell
  • Physical and mental weakness, lack of energy
Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy Symptoms

Treatment for Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy

There are some different treatments that your doctor may consider. Here are some of the possible treatment options for you and your TCM:

Investigations:

when you initially present to hospital with TCM, there are a number of investigations that your doctor may consider to not only check your heart pumping functions but to ensure you also do not have coronary artery disease.

These investigations typically include: angiogram (checking the coronary arteries for narrowing’s), ECG (checking the electrics of the heart), ECHO (ultrasound of the heart and its pumping function) and blood testing (looking at heart enzymes).

Medications:

medications are often the most typical treatment that your doctor may prescribe to help you manage and recover from TCM. Some medications may include ACE inhibitors, blood thinners (e.g. Aspirin) and cholesterol lowering medications (statins) if you have underlying coronary artery disease. NPS Medicinewise is a fantastic consumer-friendly resource to learn more about your medications.

Managing physical and emotional stress:

it is recommended that you work on managing any physical and emotional stress which led to your TCM; this can be done in conjunction with your doctors, as well as completing a cardiac rehabilitation program.

Prevention and Support

Follow the links below to find out more about how you can help prevent and support loved ones who have experienced Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy

Prevention

Prevention

There are many preventative steps one can take to manage their heart health and prevent Heart Disease. These include maintaining a healthy weight range, regularly exercise, eating a healthy and balanced diet as well as not smoking.
Supporters

Supporters

Reaching out to a support group could be a beneficial way to meet other people and find out more information about Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy, as well as provide support for carers of individuals affected by this heart condition.
Carers

Carers

Caring for someone who has Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy can be very stressful and hard to deal with. If you are struggling to care or be there for a loved one who has this condition seek help and discuss how you feel with someone today.

FAQs

What you need to know

Whilst there aren’t major statistics available for Australian women, it is thought to affect between 50,000-100,000 women per year in the United States.

It is suggested that TCM mostly affects older women, with research suggesting that the loss of oestrogen after menopause an important factor in developing TCM.

Your chances of having another event of TCM are relatively low, even within one year after the 1st event. Furthermore, it is thought that within 2-4 weeks your heart muscle has repaired, with a full recovery expected within 2 months.

However recent studies have suggested that there can be ongoing heart-failure complications after an event of TCM, so may sure you speak to your doctor regularly about new research and information on TCM.

If you are already diagnosed with any Heart Disease, we recommend speaking with your doctor and treating team to learn more about daily management.

Research suggests that attending a Secondary Prevention Program can decrease the chance of being admitted to hospital, reduce your complications as well increase survival rates. One suggestion is cardiac rehabilitation, as these programs will teach you more about your disease, help you recover, empower you to make lifestyle changes to improve heart health as well as reduce your risk of further problems.

Click here to find your nearest cardiac rehabilitation program.

Your doctor may have recommended that you take some new medications if you have cardiomyopathy.

This could be an overwhelming time for you, especially as learn all about your new medications as well as any considerations for taking them. Apart from having a discussion with your doctor and pharmacist, NPS Medicinewise has some great information on medication management, medication disposal as well as risk factors. They also have some great information about medications for your heart, which can be found here.

It’s not too late to start looking after your heart health. Here are some great and easy everyday strategies you can do to look after your heart health:

Don’t smoke, as quitting smoking can reduce your risk by 50% in one year. Quitline would be a great way to start your quitting smoking journey.

Stay active, 30 minutes per day of exercise, such as walking, can reduce your risk by 30% and delivers many positive health benefits. More information about exercise as well as a sample walking session can be found here.

Get some sleep, aim for 7-8 hours’ sleep and aim to try and unplug from your technology (e.g. iPad) one hour before bedtime. The Sleep Health Foundation has many great women’s focused sleep pages for all stages of your life such as your menstrual cycle, pregnancy, new mothers and menopause.

Eat healthy: ensure you watch portion sizes, eat healthy and nourishing foods such as: high fibre foods (including oats and legumes), two pieces of fruit and seven serves of vegetables, reduced salt, three serves of fish per week, reducing saturated fats (such as chicken with skin on, baked goods, fried foods) whilst choosing more lean proteins such as tofu and trimmed meats. The Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute has created some handy factsheets to help you choose correct portions, supermarket shopping, healthy snacks and eating out.

Relax: try and take some time out for yourself, keep connected with friends and family, perhaps try activities such as meditation to help manage your stress levels. Beyond Blue has a great page full of practical stress relieving tips, and it could be worth to try some meditations from apps such as Smiling Mind, Headspace and Calm.

Yes, there are some support groups out there for survivors of TCM! Takotsubo Support is a Facebook group for survivors as well as loved ones.

The Cardiomyopathy Association of Australia has a support group for survivors and loved ones of Takotsubo and other Cardiomyopathies.

TCM FAQ