What is Takotsubo?

Takotsubo Syndrome (TS) goes by many names such as Stress Induced Cardiomyopathy, Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy, Apical Ballooning Syndrome, and Broken Heart Syndrome. The latter is the least preferred term by those who have suffered from this condition, since it seems to belittle its severity. Whatever the name, this is a serious condition caused by a weakening of the heart's left ventricle, which is the primary pumping chamber (though sometimes the right ventricle is affected). Typically, when a Takotsubo attack occurs, the heart is essentially "stunned." A portion of the left ventricle balloons out causing a decrease in the heart's "ejection fraction," which,  subsequently, lessens its ability to pump blood to the rest of the body. Research shows that too much adrenaline (a hormone secreted by the adrenal glands, specifically in stressful situations) seems to be the trigger for Takotsubo. Takotsubo Syndrome was first reported in Japan in 1990. In Japanese, "Takotsubo" means "octopus pot," and this is what they use to trap octopus. When the bottom portion of the heart balloons out, it develops a rounded bottom with a tapered neck, closely resembling the octopus pot.

Most often, Takotsubo is the result of acute physical or emotional stress. Examples of physical stress include surgery or sudden illness, while emotional stressors include the loss of a loved one or pet, as well as events provoking fear such as a natural disaster or other life-threatening event. Over 90% of Takotsubo occurrences are in post-menopausal women between the ages of 58 to 75. This is possibly because women in this age range have decreased levels of estrogen following menopause. However, there are exceptions, as there seems to be an increasing number of younger women, and even some men, who are experiencing this phenomenon.

Most people and even many physicians have never heard of Takotsubo, and, shockingly, some medical professionals don't believe it to be real. The purpose of this website and the Octopus Pot Blog is to provide understanding and support to those who have experienced a Takotsubo event, as well as to promote awareness.

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