Stress Induced Cardiomyopathy: What It Is, Symptoms and Risk Factors
Everyone experiences stress from time to time. It could be due to work, personal relationships, health challenges or financial issues. While stress can be motivating and help us perform better, too much stress can be dangerous to our health, especially our hearts. One health condition that has been closely associated with stress is stress-induced cardiomyopathy, also known as Takotsubo cardiomyopathy or broken heart syndrome. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at this lesser-known heart condition, including its causes, symptoms, and risk factors.
What is Stress-Induced Cardiomyopathy?
Stress-induced cardiomyopathy is a type of heart condition that occurs when excessive stress temporarily causes heart muscle damage or weakening. Unlike other forms of heart muscle damage, stress-induced cardiomyopathy doesn’t happen because of blocked heart arteries commonly seen with heart attacks. Instead, this condition occurs because of a sudden surge of stress hormones that disrupt proper heart function.
Stress-induced cardiomyopathy is characterized by the sudden onset of chest pain and other symptoms that resemble a heart attack. The damaged heart muscles tend to be in the left ventricle, the part of the heart responsible for pumping oxygenated blood out into the body’s system. The heart’s upper chambers, the atria, are usually not affected.
Although the symptoms of stress-induced cardiomyopathy are similar to those of a heart attack, the prognosis is generally better. Unlike heart attack-related damage, the heart muscle damage caused by stress can be reversible with adequate treatment.
Symptoms of Stress-Induced Cardiomyopathy
The symptoms of stress-induced cardiomyopathy can occur suddenly and may last for hours or days before subsiding. Some of the common symptoms include:
– Chest pain or discomfort that resembles a heart attack
– Shortness of breath
– Rapid or irregular heartbeat
– Low blood pressure
– Fatigue and weakness
In severe cases, stress-induced cardiomyopathy can even cause life-threatening complications such as heart failure, heart arrhythmias, and cardiac arrest.
Risk Factors for Stress-Induced Cardiomyopathy
Although anyone can develop stress-induced cardiomyopathy, some people are at increased risk. The following factors can increase your chances of developing the condition:
– Female: Women are more likely to develop stress-induced cardiomyopathy than men, especially after menopause.
– Age: Stress-induced cardiomyopathy typically affects people over 55 years of age.
– Emotional stress: Any emotionally traumatic event such as the death of a loved one, a breakup or a major financial loss can trigger this condition.
– Physical stress: Severe illness, surgery, or physical trauma can also trigger stress-induced cardiomyopathy.
– History of neurological disorder: People with a history of neurological disorders such as epilepsy or migraine may be at increased risk of developing stress-induced cardiomyopathy.
– Substance abuse: Drug abuse, especially the use of cocaine, can cause stress-induced cardiomyopathy.
Diagnosis and Treatment
The diagnosis of stress-induced cardiomyopathy starts with a physical exam and medical history review. Your doctor may also order some diagnostic tests such as a chest x-ray, echocardiogram, electrocardiogram (ECG), and blood tests to rule out other health conditions that mimic the symptoms.
If the diagnosis of stress-induced cardiomyopathy is confirmed, treatment may include medications such as beta-blockers, diuretics, and ACE inhibitors to manage blood pressure and reduce strain on the heart. In severe cases, intravenous medications may be required to support heart function.
The good news is that most people who develop stress-induced cardiomyopathy recover within a few weeks or months with proper treatment. Lifestyle changes such as stress management techniques, exercise, and a healthier diet can help prevent recurrence.
Stress is a part of daily life, but it’s essential to take care of ourselves to prevent severe health consequences like stress-induced cardiomyopathy. If you experience sudden chest pain, rapid heartbeat, or any other signs of heart issues, seek medical attention immediately. Remember, the sooner the diagnosis, the better the chances of a full recovery.
What is Stress Induced Cardiomyopathy?
Stress Induced Cardiomyopathy, also known as Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy, is a condition in which the heart muscle weakens and fails due to extreme stress or emotional trauma. It is often referred to as Broken Heart Syndrome, and mimics the symptoms of a heart attack.
What Causes Stress Induced Cardiomyopathy?
The exact cause of Stress Induced Cardiomyopathy is unknown, but it is believed to be triggered by an excessive release of stress hormones such as adrenaline. This can be caused by a variety of factors including emotional stress, physical stress or illness, surgery, or medication.
What are the Symptoms of Stress Induced Cardiomyopathy?
The symptoms of Stress Induced Cardiomyopathy are similar to those of a heart attack, and can include chest pain, shortness of breath, and irregular heartbeat. However, unlike a heart attack, Stress Induced Cardiomyopathy does not usually cause blockages in the heart’s arteries, and the damage to the heart muscle is usually temporary.
1. Sharkey, S. W., & Maron, B. J. (2015). Epidemiology and clinical profile of Takotsubo cardiomyopathy. Circulation Journal, 79(5), 925-932. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1253/circj.CJ-15-0273
2. Lyon, A. R., & Bossone, E. (2016). Governance resources, patterns of coordination, and Takotsubo syndrome/stress-induced cardiomyopathy: A global survey. European Heart Journal: Acute Cardiovascular Care, 5(4), 313-319. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1177/2048872615585875
3. Singh, K., Carson, K., Shah, R., Sawhney, G., & Singh, B. (2016). Meta-analysis of clinical correlates of acute mortality in Takotsubo cardiomyopathy. The American Journal of Cardiology, 117(5), 847-852. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amjcard.2015.11.051