What is Takotsubo Syndrome?
Takotsubo syndrome, sometimes called "broken heart syndrome," is a cardiac condition that most often affects postmenopausal women, but it can also affect men and younger women. When a Takotsubo attack begins, it can feel much like a heart attack; significant emotional or physical stress often occurs beforehand. Although the weakening of the heart muscle is short-term, cardiac problems, such as shortness of breath and heart palpitations, may persist long after the initial event.
Previous research indicates that 5-10% of Takotsubo patients may experience another attack within 5 years. While awareness of the syndrome has increased, much about Takotsubo remains unknown.
What Can Takotsubo Research Solve?
- How many individuals are truly experiencing a Takotsubo attack each year, and how many will experience more than one Takotsubo attack in their lifetime?
- What are the risk factors and biomarkers that may help determine who is most likely to develop another Takotsubo attack?
- Which current therapies are the most effective, and what is needed to develop targeted treatments that more fully meet the spectrum of needs Takotsubo patients experience?
Proteomics studies provide additional tools for Takotsubo researchers. These studies analyze proteins in the blood that can help researchers identify how the syndrome affects the body, both at the time of a Takotsubo event and throughout a patient’s life.
- 80-90% of the patients who experience Takotsubo syndrome are women and most are passed the age of menopause.
- While only about 10% of Takotsubo patients are men, the syndrome may affect them more severely than women.
- At first, Takotsubo symptoms look the same as a heart attack in ECGs and labs. Unlike heart attacks caused clogged blood vessels, Takotsubo patients’ hearts often do not have major clogs.
- Although current research shows that a Takotsubo attack has a 5-10% chance of happening again within 4-5 years, it can also happen as early as 3 months and as late as 9 years after the first attack.
With so little known about why Takotsubo occurs and how recurrences affect survivors after the initial attack, we need to determine how best to treat and prevent Takotsubo—now.
Director, Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center
Director, Erika J. Glazer Women’s Heart Research Initiative
Smidt Heart Institute Takotsubo Registry & Proteomic Study
Information is being collected and studied through a secure, user-friendly online enrollment and survey process. Driven by the voices of individual’s living with Takotsubo, both within the U.S. and overseas—our goal is to create the largest database and collection of blood samples, maintained in the U.S. Together with Proteomics, information-sharing through social media and effective collaboration, the data collected will enable researchers to better address Takotsubo’s and Takotsubo patient’s most critical unanswered questions.
Elaine Kamil, MD, is a busy and dedicated physician, often working 12-hour days caring for children with kidney disorders. At 71, Kamil carries with her a disease that has affected her life for years, even before she knew she had it: Takotsubo, more commonly known as broken-heart syndrome.