What Is Takotsubo cardiomyopathy? Texas Woman Suffers Broken-Heart Syndrome After Dog’s Death

Joanie Simpson, a Texas resident is suffering from broken-heart syndrome, Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, after she lost her beloved Yorkshire terrier, Meha.

Simpson, 62, was still reeling from her dog’s death when she began experiencing chest and back pain. At first, she thought that she might be having a heart attack but further medical tests at Memorial Hermann Heart & Vascular Institute-Texas Medical Center revealed that she was suffering from Takotsubo cardiomyopathy or broken-heart syndrome.

According to a report published in Harvard Health Publishing, the publishing division of the Harvard Medical School of Harvard University, “Takotsubo cardiomyopathy is a weakening of the left ventricle, the heart’s main pumping chamber, usually as the result of severe emotional or physical stress, such as a sudden illness, the loss of a loved one, a serious accident, or a natural disaster such as an earthquake.”

The study also reveals that the exact cause of the condition is not known yet but experts claim that “surging stress hormones (for example, adrenaline) essentially ‘stun’ the heart, triggering changes in heart muscle cells or coronary blood vessels (or both) that prevent the left ventricle from contracting effectively.” Research reveals that the condition is more common in older women as they have reduced levels of estrogen after menopause.

The study also reveals that the symptoms of Takotsubo cardiomyopathy are similar to those of a heart attack but are not as fatal. The report by Harvard Health also explains that the medical condition is named after an octopus trap and is a reversible heart condition.

It further states years of gender-based research has revealed that Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, was first described in 1990 in Japan and is almost exclusively discovered in women with more than 90 percent of reported cases in women aged 58 to 75.

The study suggests up to 5% of women assessed for a heart attack, actually suffer from this disorder.  Simpson spoke about her condition and her dog to the Washington Post and revealed how Meha’s death tipped her over the edge. “I was close to inconsolable. I really took it really, really hard,” she said. 

Simpson said she had been going through a rough patch and her dog’s death was her breaking point. Meha, who suffered from congestive heart failure was like a daughter to Simpson and did not have a peaceful death, the Washington Post reported. “The kids were grown and out of the house, so she was our little girl,” Simpson said.

Simpson, who lives about two hours northwest of San Antonio in the town of Camp Woods, Texas, has her cat, Buster, to keep her company. Speaking about adopting another dog, Simpson said that even after everything she has been through, she is sure she will find a dog she will have a connection with. Simpson says she takes “things more to heart than a lot of people,” and described the experience worth it. “It is heartbreaking. It is traumatic. It is all of the above. But you know what? They give so much love and companionship that I’ll do it again. I will continue to have pets. That’s not going to stop me.”

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