Don't Curse the Nurse!

Sharing support with stories & humor

Takotsubu Cardiomyopathy

on November 22, 2018

broken heartIt’s the Japanese term for broken heart syndrome, an event in which the heart has an acute physiological weakening in response to extreme stress or grief. It can resolve, although sometimes it doesn’t. (We all loved James Garner in ‘The Notebook’ because the bittersweet ending was believable.)

On echocardiogram the heart balloons to a distinctive shape resembling that of a Japanese octopus trapping pot. The pot has a wide base and a narrow neck called the takotsubu.

There are dozens of documented cases, the most significant being the 2004 Honshu Island earthquake. Post this horrendous event; there was a 24-fold increase in the incidence of Takotsubu cases. In almost every case, the patient lived near the epicenter.

It’s unfortunate that we, as a general population, see stress management as some type of ‘Hippy’ trend reserved for Southern Californians or Bohemian artists living month to month. The number of clinical cases reviewed concerning the relationship between hypertension and stress, there are too many to count. If you have any other comorbidities, stress is often placed low on the list of items a physician addresses.

Of course, correlation does not prove causation.

I’m a heart patient and a nurse.  I see the issue from both sides.

I wanted to share this after reading an article about it in The New York Times and reflecting on how I have let stress dance around the edges of my heart.


The first step is acknowledging there is a problem, right?

4 responses to “Takotsubu Cardiomyopathy

  1. Beth says:

    If lack of sleep can kill a person, what about stress?

    You’re a nurse, right? How many hours a day do you spend on the job? Judging from your articles about the job, I assume you are not a traveling nurse, so you get to do the whole rotation in twelve hours or more–likely more. Each shift may require twelve plus and then you have to drive home…. Enough said.

    • Susan says:

      Hi, I’m a surgical nurse. Monday through Friday 6 am to 3 pm and taking call one week end every 6 weeks. Yes, spending 80 % of my time on my feet, they feel it.

      My take-away from the article, and I see from your comment, that I didn’t flesh out this post well, is that all kinds of stress can have incredibly serious impact on the heart.

      I think all jobs bring stress. And yes, not long ago I posted about the possible need to move on from where I now work. ( I’m currently looking at all the factors that took me to that low point)

      This cardiac condition I posted about, I’m still intrigued by it…might read more about it. You understand, you’re a nurse. The human condition is fascinating.

      • Beth says:

        Susan, I am not a nurse except to my children and grandchildren–like Naomi. We have medical professionals in our family and the second generation should provide a minimum of four more.

  2. themama1836 says:

    I’ve heard of broken heart syndrome, but I never knew the official term for it. Thank you for sharing!

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