TAKOSTUBO CARDIOMYOPATHY OR BROKEN HEART SYNDROME - Patient point of view
Thank you for letting me into your home. I would like to tell you about my first experience with the medical world. I am 52 years old and had never been sick in my entire life, until the eye-opening incident that happened to me recently.
I work in the restaurant field, I am a smoker and do a lot of walking in a day. I am happy indeed to have the opportunity to share my story with you.
By a beautiful autumn evening...
It all started on a beautiful fall evening as I was walking back home from running an errand. Someone came up from behind me, attacked me and stole my handbag. I fell down on the ground, not fully aware of what was happening, and felt an adrenaline rush in my stomach. It was as though my heart wanted to jump out of my body. A gentleman helped me up and saw that I seemed to be in a state of panic and that I had scraped my hands badly in the fall. He called 911.
The ambulance arrived as I was slowly getting back to reality. I did not know if I really needed to go to the hospital, but the people at the scene convinced me that it was the wise thing to do.
Meanwhile, I might add, the police were there, asking hundreds of questions about what had happened. The police gave me their card so that I would contact them later on in order for them to complete their incident report.
At the hospital emergency
I really did not have much to say to the doctor at the hospital emergency. I felt really good, except for the pain on my scraped hands.
Well... They did blood tests, an electrocardiogram and x-rayed my hands and wrists. Everything was fine, no fracture. So, what was I doing there, lying on a stretcher? I want to go home!
The doctor said I could leave and that he would call me if anything abnormal showed up on my blood test results.
I left, but I admit I was still quite shaken by what I had gone through. All my cards were stolen, identity, credit, insurance and my driver's license. I had a lot of work ahead of me!
A short time at home
About an hour after I got home, I received a call from the doctor who had looked after me at the hospital. The results of my blood tests showed something was wrong with my heart. It looked as though the aggression triggered a light angina, and I was to go back to the emergency. What a day this was turning out to be!
At the hospital emergency, a nurse had me lie down on a stretcher and placed electrodes on my chest that she connected to a monitor. The doctor came and asked if I felt any chest pain. He explained that my heart had suffered from cardiac distress during the attack and said a cardiologist would be coming over to see me.
The cardiologist's medical diagnosis
A transthoracic electrocardiogram was performed and the cardiologist came to the conclusion that the stress I felt during the incident triggered cardiac distress. This means that the emotional trauma I went through weakened part of my heart's left ventricular, which could no longer pump blood to the rest of my body as it normally would. The cardiologist reassured me that everything would be fine again in the next few weeks.
I felt encouraged and concerned at the same time. I heard what the cardiologist told me, but it was a lot to assimilate over a short period of time. I was still in shock after what had just occurred.
And that's not all! The cardiologist added that, to be on a safe side and to confirm his diagnosis, my coronary arteries should be tested.
He said it was possible that some blood vessels had been narrowed and that it was what caused my heart contractions to be irregular. A coronary angiography was set up for the day after.
During an angiography, a special dye is released into the coronary arteries so that the vessels are made more clearly visible when the x-ray is taken. The results were absolutely normal! A Takotsubo was diagnosed. Quite a name!
I fully recovered from this heart anomaly in the weeks that followed the incident, and I did not have symptoms or cardiac arrhythmia problems since.
Takotsubo is a condition where your heart muscle weakens suddenly. It is also called acute stress-induced cardiomyopathy. It may develop from a stressful situation, joy or bereavement, or any other type of physical or emotional stress.
Very little is known at this time about the mechanism that causes this type of cardiac anomaly. The victim may or may not feel a chest pain when the stressful event occurs.
Medication can be prescribed to help the heart pump and circulate blood as it is supposed to do. Cardiac muscle contractility should be verified in the months that follow; the outcome is successful in almost all cases.
Pay close attention
Although my story seems to have a happy ending, that condition should be taken seriously. For a small minority of patients, cardiac arrhythmia can be potentially dangerous.
I shall conclude by saying that stress cardiomyopathy or Takotsubo is also called "Broken heart syndrome". And, as an old saying goes: "Beaucoup de bruit dans l’escalier, personne ne monte" (A lot of noise in the stairway, but no one is coming up). A left cardiac ventricular dysfunction involves disturbances and a variety of tests. In the end, however, normality returns.
Although I do not regret going back to the hospital, I never imagined that my heart would suffer from this event.
In my case, it was a wake-up call, I realized that good health is fragile, and I quit smoking.