All You Need to Know About Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy, Also Known as the Broken Heart Syndrome


Edited By: Riya Ashok Madayi

Last Updated: January 25, 2023, 21:41 IST

The negative effects of stress include tension, anxiety, and even the development of major illnesses.

Everybody experiences stress differently, and it comes in different forms. Stress is explained by Dr. Rajpal Singh, Director of Interventional Cardiology at Fortis Hospital, Richmond Road, Bangalore, who also offers his insights on broken heart syndrome and related issues

Stress is a term that is used quite often in our daily lives. It is a general response to deal with the daily changes and the challenges that comes our way. There are instances which puts us down emotionally, physically and mentally which causes the release of cortisol, the stress hormone along with adrenaline which has the tendency of influencing the blood pressure, sleep patterns, blood sugar levels as well as the heart rate. Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, also known as the broken heart syndrome, is one such heart condition that can result from an acute, severe form of stress.

Stress differs from person to person and it has its own kinds like acute, episodic acute stress and chronic stress. These variations are classified based on their characteristics, signs, symptoms, duration and treatment approaches. Stress is not always considered as a bad thing, it is usually our response to the everyday work. The right amount of stress motivates a person to be alert and think at their feet. However, too much stress can be harmful and can make on feel tensed, anxious and can even cause some serious illnesses.

The three types of stress:

Based on several parameter stress can be classified into the following types:

Acute stress: One of the most common types of stress, acute stress is the one with frequent presentation and occurs for a brief period. It mainly occurs due to overthinking, negative thoughts over any events or demands in the near future. These can be identified by three different problems like transient emotional distress, headache, neck pain, sometimes transient stomach, gut and bowel problems, heartburn, acid stomach, flatulence, diarrhea, constipation.

Episodic Acute Stress: In this type of stress, a person often presents with frequent triggers of acute stress. People who frequently suffer acute stress often live a life of chaos and crisis. Their emotions are totally pressured and unorganised. This type of stress can be found in two different personalities like, “ Type A “ personality and The “ Worrier”. Type A personality is when acute stress is found to be frequent , the person is aggressive, impatience, and has a sense of time urgency. These symptoms also leads to a heart condition called coronary heart diseases. The worrier type are the people who worry a lot and tend to have negative thoughts about everything.

Chronic stress: The severe ,long lasting, harmful type of stress is chronic stress, where the community can suffer either because of their aversive experiences in childhood or either a traumatic experiences in their life.

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Takotsubo cardiomyopathy:

Also known as the broken heart syndrome or the stress induced cardiomyopathy, it is the weakening of the heart’s main chamber, the left ventricle. It is usually caused due to severe emotional or physical stress. The causes are:

  • Unexpected loss of a close one
  • A sudden accident
  • Sudden drop in the blood pressure
  • Intense fear
  • Fierce argument Stress and heart: There is nothing wrong in saying that stress does have a negative impact on the body, especially the heart. Heart and stress level is always interconnected, the higher a person is stressed, the amygdala (an area of the brain that deals with stress) signals the bone marrow to produce more white blood cells. This causes the arteries to become inflamed, which can lead to heart attacks, strokes and angina (a type of chest pain caused due to reduced blood flow to the heart). Broken heart syndrome is such cardiovascular diseases which can result from an acute, severe form of stress.

To avoid heart diseases through stress, we need to follow some simple tips in everyday life, which would help to improve both mental and physical health. Managing stress is not learnt in one go but it is about practicing everyday.

Ways to manage stress and help the heart:

  • Stay positive: A good laugh can help the heart, laughter lowers levels of stress hormones, reduces inflammation in the arteries and good HDL cholesterol.
  •  Exercise: Everytime the body is physically active, it releases mood boosting chemicals called endorphins. Exercising not only melts away the stress but also protects against heart diseases by lowering blood pressure and strengthening the heart muscles. Lack of exercise, in turn leads to weight gain and thereby the risk for the development of coronary artery disease also increases. However, people should try and indulge themselves in physical activities like yoga and meditation which are the proven forms of therapies aimed at stress reduction.
  • Avoid psychiatric illness like binge eating, hypertension & diabetes- During stress, people often tend to binge eat which might later lead to conditions like diabetes and hypertension. Instead crunching a bag of chips, include your diet with nutrients and antioxidants like salmon, avocado, asparagus, grass-fed beef, and dark chocolate. It is important to accept the stress and face the problem and fight against it , plan out with friends to distract from stressful situations and take time for relaxation to calm yourself.

ALSO READ: Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy: Binge Drinking May Be Hurting Your Heart

Wondering about the importance of stress management in daily life should not be optional. It is necessary that everyone ushers to reduce stress with management tips regularly to improve and save the heart. People should also make sure to not rely on unhealthy habits of smoking or overeating to combat stress.

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