Geneva: It is typically triggered by episodes of severe emotional distress, such as grief, anger or fear, with patients developing chest pains and breathlessness.
Happy events such as a birthday party or wedding can trigger a condition known as "broken heart syndrome" which may lead to cardiac arrest and death, a new study has claimed. Takotsubo syndrome (TTS) is known as "broken heart syndrome" and is characterised by a sudden temporary weakening of the heart muscles that causes the left ventricle of the heart to balloon out at the bottom while the neck remains narrow.
Since this relatively rare condition was first described in 1990, evidence has suggested that it is typically triggered by episodes of severe emotional distress, such as grief, anger or fear, with patients developing chest pains and breathlessness. It can lead to heart attacks and death.
For the first time, scientists from University Hospital Zurich in Switzerland have systematically analysed data from the largest group of patients diagnosed with TTS worldwide, and found that some patients have developed the condition after a happy or joyful event. They have named it "happy heart syndrome".
Researchers analysed data from 1750 patients. They found 485 patients where there was a definite emotional trigger. Of these, 20 (4 per cent) had TTS that had been precipitated by happy and joyful events, such as a birthday party, wedding, surprise farewell celebration, a favourite rugby team winning a game, or the birth of a grandchild.
Researchers found that 465 (96 per cent) had occurred after sad and stressful events, such as death of a spouse, child or parent, attending a funeral, an accident, worry about illness, or relationship problems; one occurred after an obese patient got stuck in the bath. As many as 95 per cent of the patients were women in both the "broken hearts" and "happy hearts" groups, and the average age of patients was 65 among the "broken hearts" and 71 among the "happy hearts", confirming that the majority of TTS cases occur in post-menopausal women. "We have shown that the triggers for TTS can be more varied than previously thought. A TTS patient is no longer the classic "broken hearted" patient, and the disease can be preceded by positive emotions too," said Jelena Ghadri from University Hospital Zurich.
"Our findings broaden the clinical spectrum of TTS. They also suggest that happy and sad life events may share similar emotional pathways that can ultimately cause TTS," said Ghadri. Researchers found that "happy heart" patients were more likely to have hearts that had ballooned in the mid-ventricle than "broken heart" patients (35 per cent versus 16 per cent). The findings were published in the European Heart Journal.