A stressful event, such as the death of a loved one, can really break the heart. In medicine, the condition is known as broken heart syndrome or takotsubo syndrome. It is characterized by a temporary interruption of the normal pumping function of the heart, which puts the patient at greater risk of death. It is believed that it is the reason why many elderly couples die in a short amount of time.
Broken heart syndrome has similar symptoms to a heart attack, including chest pain and difficulty breathing. During an attack, which can be triggered by a disorder, divorce, surgery or other stress, the cardiac muscle weakens to the extent that it can no longer pump blood effectively.
In approximately one in ten cases, people with broken heart syndrome develop a condition called cardiogenic shock where the heart can not pump enough blood to meet the needs of the body. This can result in death.
It has long been thought that, unlike a heart attack, the damage caused by broken heart syndrome were temporary, lasting for days or weeks, but recent research suggests that this is not the case.
A study by researchers from the University of Aberdeen provided the first evidence that broken heart syndrome results in permanent physiological changes in the heart. The researchers followed 52 patients with disorders for four months, using ultrasound scans and cardiac images to see how the hearts of patients worked in minute detail. They found that the disease has permanently affected the pumping movement of the heart. They also found that the parts of the heart muscle were replaced by fine scars, which reduced the elasticity of the heart and prevented it from being hired correctly.
In a recent follow-up study, the same research team has reported that people with broken heart syndrome have a persistent cardiac function and a reduced exercise capacity, similar to heart failure, for more than 12 months after being discharged. hospital
A new study on the disease, published in Circulation, now shows that the risk of death remains high for many years after the initial attack.
In this study, researchers in Switzerland compared 198 patients with broken heart syndrome who developed cardiogenic shock with 1,880 patients who did not. They found that patients who experienced cardiogenic shock were more likely to have undergone the physical stress-related syndrome, such as surgery or asthma attack, and were also significantly more likely to die five years after the initial event.
People with significant risk factors for heart disease, such as diabetes or smoking, were also more likely to suffer cardiogenic shock, as well as people with atrial fibrillation (type of cardiac arrhythmia).
A second study in Spain found similar results among 711 people with broken heart syndrome, 11% of which developed cardiogenic shock. Over the course of one year, cardiogenic shock has been the strongest predictor of death in this group of patients.
These studies show that cardiogenic shock is not an uncommon risk factor in patients with broken heart syndrome and is a strong predictor of death. They throw light on a condition that was previously thought to be less serious than it is.
Evidence now clearly shows that the condition is not temporary and the urgent need to establish new and more effective treatments and a careful follow-up of people with this condition is evident.
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