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This Rotten System is Designed to Give Heartaches

No cure for brokenhearted:

Research finds time doesn’t heal heartbreak



Reuters / Radu Sigheti


A disturbing condition, known as the ‘broken heart syndrome,’ doesn’t necessarily heal with time, researchers at the University of Aberdeen have found. There is no treatment for the disorder, which was previously thought to recover in due course.

Published time: December 23, 2014 19:53

  A team of researchers at Scotland’s Aberdeen University has spent  four years studying the syndrome, commonly referred to as a   “broken heart,” and medically known as Takotsubo stress  cardiomyopathy (TSM). The result of  their work turned out to be heartbreaking indeed: “There is  no known treatment for the condition.”

  The syndrome, which was first described in Japan in 1990, is  usually sparked by stress, following life events such as losses  of family members or friends, involvement in an accident or  rueful feelings caused by relationship break-ups – mostly  affecting women.

  Patients suffering from TSM might experience severe chest pains  associated with a heart attack, medics say, but when their  coronary arteries are checked, no blockage is found. But   “patients can go downhill very quickly,” scientists  warn, as their heart muscle functions poorly.

“The usual test for heart function is an echocardiogram  (Echo) test and when we conduct this it shows that the heart is  back to normal… However, when talking to the patients they  report that they are still not feeling themselves, cannot take  part in strenuous activity and many have been unable to return to  work,” said Dana Dawson, who led the Aberdeen research team.

  Having studied brokenhearted patients as a group rather than  individual cases, and using more sophisticated diagnostic tools,  including Cardiac Magnetic Resonance and Spectroscopy, scientists  found continued abnormalities in the hearts of suffering people.

  “We also observed that the ability of the heart to generate the  energy it needs to produce a pumping action was very much  reduced,” Dawson said.

“Everyone knows someone who has had a heart attack, but I’ve  never met anyone else who has been through this so it is nice to  contribute to a study,” said Michael Strachan, who was  diagnosed with TSM. He expressed the hope that his participation  might help scientists arrive at a better understanding of the  condition in the future.

  Researchers say they need to get a better understanding of the  complaint’s exact causes first, before further studies can be  carried out into possible treatments

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