Natural History and Expansive Clinical Profile of Stress (Tako-Tsubo) Cardiomyopathy

OBJECTIVES: This study was designed to define more completely the clinical spectrum and consequences of stress cardiomyopathy (SC) beyond the acute event. Stress cardiomyopathy is a recently recognized condition characterized by transient cardiac dysfunction with ventricular ballooning.

METHODS: Clinical profile and outcome were prospectively assessed in 136 consecutive SC patients.

RESULTS: Patients were predominantly women (n = 130; 96%), but 6 were men (4%). Ages were 32 to 94 years (mean age 68 ± 13 years); 13 (10%) were ≤50 years of age. In 121 patients (89%), SC was precipitated by intensely stressful emotional (n = 64) or physical (n = 57) events, including 22 associated with sympathomimetic drugs or medical/surgical procedures; 15 other patients (11%) had no evident stress trigger. Twenty-five patients (18%) were taking beta-blockers at the time of SC events. Three diverse ventricular contraction patterns were defined by cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) imaging, usually with rapid return to normal systolic function, although delayed >2 months in 5%. Right and/or left ventricular thrombi were identified in 5 patients (predominantly by CMR imaging), including 2 with embolic events. Three patients (2%) died in-hospital and 116 (85%) have survived, including 5% with nonfatal recurrent SC events. All-cause mortality during follow-up exceeded a matched general population (p = 0.016) with most deaths occurring in the first year.

CONCLUSIONS: In this large SC cohort, the clinical spectrum was heterogeneous with about one-third either male, ≤50 years of age, without a stress trigger, or with in-hospital death, nonfatal recurrence, embolic stroke, or delayed normalization of ejection fraction. Beta-blocking drugs were not absolutely protective and SC was a marker for increased noncardiac mortality. These data support expanded management and surveillance strategies including CMR imaging and consideration for anticoagulation.


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  1. Interesting clinical entity, with central role of echo and CMR in the diagnostic evaluation.

  2. As commented in the conclusions, this is a nice study which highlights some unusual characteristics of stress CMP patients; namely that men account for ~5% of cases, B-blockers are not entirely protective, and it is not uniformly a benign condition.

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