Emotional brain changes have been found in the mysterious “Broken Heart Syndrome.”

Summary: Takotsubo syndrome is an unexpected form of congestive heart failure, often caused by emotional or physical stress, and is associated with changes in areas of the brain associated with emotions and emotional processes.

A source: University of Aberdeen

According to a study from the University of Aberdeen, changes in the sensory areas of the brain have been identified in people with Takotsubo syndrome, sometimes referred to as heart failure syndrome.

The study, presented at the Centennial Conference of the British Cardiovascular Society in Manchester, also identified changes in brain activity levels in certain areas that control the heartbeat.

Takotsubo syndrome is an unexpected form of acute heart failure that affects about 5,000 people in the UK each year and is mainly seen in postmenopausal women. It can cause symptoms similar to a heart attack, and although the arteries leading to the heart are not blocked, the risk of complications is similar to the symptoms of a true heart attack.

The cause of Takotsubo’s syndrome is not yet fully understood, but it is often caused by emotional or physical stress, such as the loss of a loved one, and is also known as a broken heart syndrome.

Dr. Hilal Khan, a clinical researcher at the University of Aberdeen, said: “We have known for many years that there is a connection between the brain and the heart, but the role of this in Takotsubo remains a mystery. For the first time, we identified changes in areas of the brain that are responsible for controlling the heart and emotions. Further work is needed to determine if these changes are causing Takotsubo syndrome.

“We hope that with more research, we will be able to determine which treatment is most effective. We hope to further improve the care of these patients by studying the effects of cardiac rehabilitation and psychotherapy on brain structure and function after Takotsubo.

In a detailed study, researchers examined the brains of 25 patients most affected by the Takotsubo episode over the past five days. They used MRI scans of the brain to measure brain size, surface area, and communication signals between different areas of the brain. They then compared these results with controls that matched patients by age, sex, and other medical conditions.

They found that patients with Takotsubo had fewer connections in the thalamus, amygdala, insula, and basal ganglia than healthy people. These are areas of the brain involved in the regulation of high-level functions such as emotions, thinking, language, stress response, and heart control.

The researchers also found that the thalamus and insula areas of the brain grew, and the total size of the brain, including the amygdala and brainstem, was smaller than in healthy people.

The team now plans to perform the next brain MRI scan on the same patients to monitor Takotsubo’s natural progress in the brain. They are also in the process of scanning the brains of heart attack patients in the hope that Takotsubo syndrome will cause changes in the brain or lead to Takotsubo syndrome.

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This shows a heart-shaped brain
The cause of Takotsubo’s syndrome is not yet fully understood, but it is often caused by emotional or physical stress, such as the loss of a loved one, and is also known as a broken heart syndrome. Image in public domain

Professor James Laiper, Deputy Medical Director of the British Heart Foundation, said: “Takotsubo Syndrome is a sudden and potentially catastrophic heart disease that has only been recognized in recent years.

“This study is a significant step forward in understanding how the brain and heart are closely linked in this mysterious state and how an emotional event can lead to heart failure.”

Carol Duncan, 73, of Aberdeen, is part of the study, as she suffered an episode of Takotsubo after her younger brother fell ill and was admitted to the intensive care unit. He said: “There is a misconception that this is in your head because Takotsubo can be triggered by an emotional event. Knowing that the researchers saw measurable changes in my scanners made me feel closer to Takotsubo’s physical condition.

“I am very happy to be a part of this study. It really gives hope that scientists are trying to fully understand this misunderstanding and treat it better. “

This is about the news of cardiovascular health and emotion research

Author: Press service
A source: University of Aberdeen
The connection: Press Service – University of Aberdeen
Photo: Image in public domain

Original study: The study will be presented at a meeting of the British Cardiovascular Society

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