‘Broken heart syndrome’ protects the heart
29 June 2012
A rare heart problems triggered by intense grief - known as
'broken heart syndrome' or Takotsubo cardiomyopathy - may be
protective rather than harmful, scientists believe.
A team at Imperial College London has discovered that this form of
temporary heart failure actually guards the heart from very
high levels of the stress hormone adrenaline.
Until now, experts had thought it was a bad reaction to causes of
emotional woes, such as the loss of a loved one.
Around one to two per cent of people who are initially suspected
of having a heart attack
are eventually discovered to have this syndrome, the scientists say
in the journal Circulation.
Most make a full recovery within days.
The researchers studied the condition in rodents, giving high-dose
adrenaline injections to the rats to mimic the bodily reactions
that occur when people are under intense emotional strain.
The result was the same as in Takotsubo cardiomyopathy - a
shutting down of the normal function of the lower section of the
heart to protect it from being overstimulated by the higher than
The researchers have also identified a drug treatment that might
be helpful - beta-blockers which are currently used to treat high blood
pressure, angina and heart
And they say the most important thing is to recognise the
condition and not to make it worse by giving patients with
Takotsubo cardiomyopathy more adrenaline or adrenaline-like
However, experts say the findings need to be confirmed in people
before we can be sure that they apply to patients.
Source © Trio Media 2012