More at Risk for Transient Heart Failure

Stress cardiomyopathy affects broader population than previously suspected

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Stress can bring plenty of undesired affects including a transient form of acute heart failure. It was suspected the cardiac disorder was fairly limited to postmenopausal women. Research suggests the risk pool is much greater.

Stress cardiomyopathy isn't only linked to women just beyond the brink of menopause. It can affect younger patients, men and even patients that do not appear to be grappling with stress. The research was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

"Inform your physician if you are under stress."

Dr. Ingo Eitel of the University of Leipzig in Germany conducted a study to identify those at risk of the cardiac disorder and to consider whether cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) could help doctors better identify it.

Stress cardiomyopathy is characterized by profound, but reversible left ventricular dysfunction, but no significant coronary artery disease. It can be tough to quickly diagnose.

The study was conducted at seven health care facilities in Europe and North America between January 2005 and October 2010. During the study, 256 patients with stress cardiomyopathy were assessed at a health center, and again up to six months after it occurred.

On average patients were 69 years old and most were women. While 81 percent were postmenopausal women, 8 percent were age 50 or younger and 11 percent were men.

Of those, 30 percent were dealing with emotional distress, 41 were dealing with physical stress, and in 29 percent of cases there was no distinguishable stress factor.

Previous research has suggested that as many as 89 percent of stress cardiomyopathy patients had clearly identifiable emotional of physical stress factors. Researchers wrote that the study indicates that the absence of a stressful event does not rule out such a diagnosis.

Dr. Eitel urged enhanced awareness and recognition of a broad clinical profile of stress cardiomyopathy to ensure the correct diagnosis and treatment of patients. He also noted that CMR imaging may provide incremental diagnostic information, and could help establish or rule out a diagnosis.

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Review Date: 
July 20, 2011
Last Updated:
July 22, 2011