Study Shows Broken Heart Syndrome Upswing in Pre-COVID Era

Study Shows Broken Heart Syndrome is in Upswing

Many coronary diseases are a consequence of our stressful day-to-day life. One such condition is the Takotsubo syndrome (TTS), also known as the “Broken Heart Syndrome,” a disease that still baffles many medical experts.

TTS triggers symptoms similar to a heart attack, like sharp chest pain and shortness of breath, although coronary arteries don’t block blood flow to the heart. Initially detected in Japan, this condition was named after a traditional octopus pot which is what the left ventricle looks like once inflated due to the impact of the condition.

A recent study by a team of researchers of the Department of Cardiology at the Smidt Heart Institute found that age and sex play a role in developing this condition.

The study involved extensive examination of TTS records of the National Inpatient Sample database between 2006-2017. The study’s lead author, Dr. Susan Cheng, states that women aged 50-75 stand out as a particularly affected demographic. While men are more likely to suffer from conventional heart diseases, this specific syndrome was observed in an overwhelming 88% of women, with the highest incidence rate among middle-aged women of 128 cases per million.

Some experts indicate that stressful events and physical injuries, illnesses, or surgical interventions can cause TTS. However, findings of Dr. Cheng’s team suggest that the syndrome occurs as a consequence of emotional distress and that it may be associated with how the sympathetic system and the heart react to some stress hormones.

Research has also shown an increase in TTS cases at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic. One paper indicates that between March and April of 2020, the TTS incidence rate went up from 1.5-1.8% to 7.75%. This was attributed to the detrimental effects of COVID-19 on the mental wellbeing of the general population.

This rise in the “Broken Heart Syndrome” cases is seen as another implication of COVID-19 that requires further examination in search of proper treatment options.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

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