Takotsubo cardiomyopathy

Synonyms: Stress cardiomyopathy, Broken heart syndrome

Medical Specialties: Cardiology, Emergency medicine, Internal medicine

Clinical Definition

Takotsubo cardiomyopathy is a cardiac condition that causes a weakening of the left ventricle. It is usually precipitated by a severe emotional stressor. The theory is adrenaline, which is produced in response to stress, may trigger a change in the coronary arteries of the myocardium. The change reduces the efficiency of the left ventricle contractions. Symptoms may resemble a myocardial infraction, but the coronary arteries are usually not obstructed in people with takotsubo cardiomyopathy. 

In Our Own Words

Takotsubo cardiomyopathy is a heart condition that causes the hearts main pumping chamber to become weak and less effective. Takotsubo cardiomyopathy is also called broken heart syndrome because of the link between emotional stress and the condition.


The condition usually develops after severe emotional or physical stress, such as the death of a loved one or a serious accident. It is believed stress hormones cause changes in the coronary arteries or the cells of the heart muscle. These changes may prevent the heart from pumping effectively. Although symptoms may be similar to a heart attack, they are not caused by blocked arteries. 

Relevant Conditions
  • Psychological trauma
Side Effects
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  • American Heart Association. "Is Broken Heart Syndrome for Real." http://www.heart.org. Accessed October 2013.
  • Harvard Medical School. "Takotsubo cardiomyopathy (Broken Heart Syndrome)." http://www.health.harvard.edu. Accessed October 2013.
  • Jefferson University Hospitals. "Broken Heart Syndrome." http://www.rad.tju.edu. Accessed October 2013.
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