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27 June 2012
Researchers we fund at Imperial College London have made a breakthrough in our understanding of Takutsubo cardiomyopathy, also known as 'broken heart syndrome'.
Takotsubo cardiomyopathy is a temporary condition where your heart muscle becomes suddenly weakened or 'stunned' and the left ventricle, one of the heart's chambers, changes shape.
The condition affects up to 2,500 people a year in the UK and 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 bottom.
Our Research Advisor Dr Shannon Amoils said:
“This is a fascinating study which presents a possible explanation for the signs of Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, a rare condition that's usually preceded by intense emotional or physical stress. Patients usually have symptoms that resemble those of a heart attack but nearly all fully recover after a short time.
“The study also provides new insights into how the heart may protect itself from stress, which opens up exciting avenues of exploration for research. We must remember though that this is a study in rats, and the findings need to be confirmed in people before we can be sure of their relevance to patients.”
The research was published in American Heart Association journal Circulation [http://circ.ahajournals.org/].