Takotsubo cardiomyopathy is a temporary
condition where your heart muscle becomes suddenly weakened or
‘stunned’. The left ventricle, one of the heart’s chambers,
This condition is also called acute stress cardiomyopathy,
broken heart syndrome and apical ballooning syndrome.
Takotsubo cardiomyopathy was first reported in Japan. The word
Takotsubo means ‘octopus pot’ in Japanese, as the left ventricle
changes into a similar shape - developing a narrow neck and a round
What are the symptoms?
The main symptoms of Takotsubo cardiomyopathy are chest pains
and breathlessness, similar to a heart
attack. You should always phone 999
immediately if you experience these symptoms or see the
signs in other people.
How is it diagnosed?
When you go to the hospital you will have an ECG and blood test.
This will show changes that are the usual signs of a heart
You will then undergo an angiogram
test - a procedure which looks inside your coronary arteries
to see if there are any blockages. If you have
Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, the angiogram won’t find any blockages
but it will show that your left
ventricle has changed shape, which will confirm
What causes it?
The cause of this condition has not been confirmed but there are
a number of theories. About three quarters of
people diagnosed with Takotsubo cardiomyopathy have experienced
significant emotional or physical stress
prior to becoming unwell.
Examples include bereavement, major
surgery, or being involved in a disaster such as an earthquake.
There is some evidence that the excessive release of hormones
- in particular adrenaline - during these periods of
stress causes the stunning of the heart muscle.
The good news is that the condition is temporary
and reversible – and it’s unusual for it
to happen again.
Researching the cause of Takotsubo cardiomyopathy
Your donations help us fund researchers
like those at the Imperial College London, who have already made a
breakthrough in our understanding
How is it treated?
There is no specific treatment available for Takotsubo
cardiomyopathy, although often you may receive treatments for a
heart attack, such as aspirin, in the
early stages. Your left ventricle will return to normal over a few
days or weeks and you will usually be followed up with regular
echocardiograms until this
If you are found to be at high risk of a heart attack you may be prescribed medication to
try and reduce this risk, but otherwise you will not need any
further medication or treatment. Unlike other types of
cardiomyopathy, Takotsubo cardiomyopathy cannot be inherited.