With heart disease being the number one killer in both the United States and worldwide, it’s completely natural that we investigate the causes and some possible cures. But some diseases are so rare that doctors still don’t know what’s causing them. And the strangest thing is how they are triggered.
In this article, we’re going to talk about the Broken Heart Syndrome. It’s not deadly, although it can kill under some circumstances, but its behavior is some of the weirdest medical experts have ever seen. And that’s fitting for a disease named after a sort of ceramic pot used to trap octopuses – takotsubo cardiomyopathy.
Discovered by Japanese researchers some 25 years ago, TTS (takotsubo syndrome) generally occurs for old people, particularly women over 60. It manifests when experiencing a very powerful negative emotion and it manifests by having the left ventricle enlarge until it resembles the Japanese takotsubo octopus trap.
But a recent study looking into the elusive disease shows that the broken heart syndrome can be triggered by happiness. Positive emotions associated with the syndrome are celebrating a birthday, attending a child’s or grandchild’s wedding, retirement, or becoming a grandparent.
For the study, researchers performed a meta-analysis of data collected from the 1,750 cases of TTS that occurred between 2011 and 2014. Out of these, only 485 followed an intense emotional event, at least according to the victims. 95.9 percent of cases occurred after a powerful negative feeling, while 4.1 after a positive one.
The symptoms were extremely similar between the two causes, with only slight differences. Mostly manifesting as shortness of breath and chest pain, the syndrome has a 95% chance of affecting women in their mid to late 50s.
The only notable difference was also unexplained – the mid ventricle in the hearts of those experiencing the syndrome after a happy emotion had a 35% of suffering a sort of “ballooning”, compared to those caused by sad events, which only had a 16% chance of that to happen.
According to the study’s lead researcher, Dr. Jelena Ghadri of the University Hospital Zurich,
We have shown that the triggers for TTS can be more varied than previously thought. A TTS patient is no longer the classic ‘broken hearted’ patient, and the disease can be preceded by positive emotions too. […]Our findings broaden the clinical spectrum of TTS.
While it is very rarely fatal and easily reversible, the takotsubo syndrome can’t really be figured out yet because of one main issue – its rarity. But doctors are confident that subsequent studies will shed more light on this strange medical event.
Image source: Wikimedia