What Is Broken Heart Syndrome?

Known as stress-induced cardiomyopathy and takotsubo syndrome, broken heart syndrome first described women who buried their husbands and later experienced heart failure, says Cary Hirsch, MD, Medical Director, Cardiovascular Institute at Good Samaritan Hospital.

Although female patients over age 75 have the worst prognosis, it can also afflict men and young women.


To make an appointment with a member of the cardiology team at the WMCHealth Heart and Vascular Institute at HealthAlliance Hospital: Mary’s Avenue Campus, call 845.339.3663 or visit HAHV.org/cardiology for more information.


“We now understand that it’s an unusual form of heart trauma, where the left ventricle suddenly becomes dysfunctional and takes the shape of a Japanese octopus trap [a takotsubo],” he says.

An overwhelming psychological disaster can be one trigger, yet the primary causes remain unknown. The good news: Except for rare cases, the heart muscle almost always heals itself after a few days or months. Symptoms recur in around 10 percent of patients, but no medical therapy can prevent the onset, nor has any genetic marker been identified.


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