Inflammation and "broken heart" syndrome

Inflammation and "broken heart" syndrome

Is there inflammation in the heart follow an episode of “broken heart” syndrome?

Acute stress-induced (Tako-tsubo or “broken heart” syndrome) cardiomyopathy presents like a heart attack but surprisingly, the heart arteries appear free of any blockages. Although most patients recover, there can be serious complications in the early phase - and the risk of death is similar to that of a heart attack. After the acute episode, many patients continue to have persisting symptoms. Our understanding of the mechanisms underlying this condition lags behind that of other cardiovascular disorders and consequently no treatment exists for acute attacks or to prevent recurrences. We have discovered that Tako-tsubo syndrome is characterised by sustained inflammation in the heart but we are only beginning to understand this response and its ultimate effect on heart function in this disease.

Figure shows still images showing the heart wall motion of a patient suffering from Tako-tsubo syndrome.


Funded by British Heart Foundation


Team members:

Professor Dana Dawson

Dr Heather Wilson (Research scientist, University of Aberdeen)

Dr Paul Broadhurst (Cardiologist, NHS Grampian)

Dr Anke Henning (Max Planck Institute, Tubingen)