Malignant cardiac arrhythmia in broken heart syndrome

Broken heart syndrome is the name given to a disease of the heart muscle which occurs following the loss of a dear one. It is also variously known as stress cardiomyopathy, apical ballooning syndrome and Takotsubo cardiomyopathy. In this disease the apex of the left ventricle becomes weak and balloons out. Symptoms and ECG may mimic a heart attack and the person can be quite sick. A recent study from Mayo Clinic, published in the Indian Pacing and Electrophysiology Journal (Indian Pacing Electrophysiol. J. 2008;8(3):182-192) by Samuel J. Asirvatham and associates evaluated the risk of malignant cardiac arrhythmias in this disorder. They found that life threatening arrhythmia was uncommon despite marked structural abnormalities. But when arrhythmias do occur the outcome is poor.