Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Dying of a Broken Heart

In Japan, the small ceramic pots (takotsubo) are attached to a single, longline like the hooks used in longline fishing. The line is lowered in the sea and left on the sea floor, where they sit for a day or two like vacant homes for octopus to inhabit. Sometimes the pots are 'furnished' with squid eggs.

The takotsubo happen to have the same, or a similar shape as the human heart during a contraction. And the "broken heart syndrome" was first described in Japan and that is why it was given the name, "Takotsubo."

 Left, X-ray of the heart during the contraction phase from a patient with takotsubo. Note the distinctive shape with a narrow neck and ballooned lower portion (arrows), which contracts abnormally. Right, The Japanese takotsubo (ceramic pot used to trap octopus) has a shape that closely resembles that of the heart on the left. This image courtesy Dr Satoshi Kurisu, Hiroshima, Japan.

I was diagnosed with Takotsubo in March of 2013. But that's not what the paperwork called it. Instead, I was diagnosed with a myocardial infarction, caused by apical ballooning syndrome. Apical ballooning syndrome is also known as Takotsubo, which is also known as "Broken Heart Syndrome." And yes, you can die of a broken heart.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015