A study funded by British Heart Foundation may have identified the potential pathophysiology of a mysterious heart condition. Researchers believe the immune system may play a key role in the development of takotsubo cardiomyopathy, commonly known as ‘broken heart syndrome.’
The condition which affects hundreds of individuals in the United Kingdom every year, particularly women, manifests as acute heart failure with symptoms similar to that of a heart attack. Although there isn't any blockage of the coronary arteries, it carries a risk for complications similar to a heart attack. The condition often ensues from an event of emotional or physical stress such as loss of a loved one.
Researchers at the University of Aberdeen evaluated inflammation in the heart muscle and blood of 55 patients with acute takotsubo cardiomyopathy using magnetic resonance imaging. The findings showed that individuals with takotsubo had higher levels of inflammation compared with healthy individuals, and the elevation persisted for a minimum of 5 months after the initial event.
Professor Dana Dawson from the University of Aberdeen said: "We still don’t know if inflammation is the cause of the broken heart syndrome itself or if it is a reactive response, but it offers a first platform to plan for the future possible therapeutic interventions in this condition in which no treatment exists."