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What causes takotsubo cardiomyopathy?

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While researchers are unsure of the exact cause of takotsubo cardiomyopathy as of 2015, they believe a surge of stress hormones may cause temporary damage to the hearts of some people, according to Mayo Clinic. Also known as broken heart syndrome, takotsubo cardiomyopathy is often proceeded by an event that causes an intense physical or emotional response.

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Events that may trigger takotsubo cardiomyopathy include the unexpected death of a loved one, divorce, domestic abuse, a frightening medical diagnosis or the loss of a job. Happy events, such as a surprise party, can also trigger takotsubo cardiomyopathy, warns Mayo Clinic. A car accident, major surgery and other physical stress to the body have the potential to cause broken heart syndrome as well.

Common signs of takotsubo cardiomyopathy include chest pain and shortness of breath, according to the American Heart Association. It can also cause irregular heart rhythms. It leads to short-term heart muscle failure but is usually treatable, and the person recovers fully within a few weeks. Once the heart heals, the person is unlikely to experience future episodes of broken heart syndrome. In some cases, it leads to cardiac shock, and the heart is unable to pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs. Cardiac shock can be fatal without immediate treatment.

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