I am 67, very healthy in terms of weight, diet and exercise. Feb 2013 my daughter-in-law was diagnosed with Triple Negative breast cancer. She is thus far a walking miracle - still cancer-free after a double mastectomy in August. My very healthy and active husband suffered a 6-minute cardiac arrest on Oct 14. He too is a walking miracle: 100% recovered both physically and cognitively. I retired in Dec 2012 from a high-powered stressful job, with quite a bit of global travel. I thought I'd handled all this stress quite well.
July 16 I'd just finished 19 minutes on an elliptical, got off, took two steps and felt like the proverbial elephant was sitting on my chest - also short of breath. Thank God we basically live across the street from Mass General. In ER they immediately did an ECG but it was normal. So we waited the typical 90 minutes in the ER as folks with sprained wrists and other things went in first. By the time I was in a cubicle to see the dr, I felt much better, just exhausted. Dr wanted to do two blood tests, 6 hours apart, have me stay overnight and do a stress test the next morning. I balked at that as I felt better and we were to travel the next day. She talked me into the first blood test, "and then we'll see where we go from there."
I sent my husband home (across the street) and had about 5 vials of blood drawn. I sat exhausted in a waiting room, expecting to go home. Suddenly there were about 5 staff around me, I was put on a gurny and rushed to acute section of ER. My Triponin was high - it's a hormone in the blood that is supposed to be at zero and when elevated is a sign you've had a heart attack or an attack or stroke could be imminent. Another ECG was "much worse" and I was signing documents to go in for an emergency heart catheterization, in a panic, shivering, being cold suddenly and talking to my husband on the cell trying to guide him to where I was so I could see him! He raced back and I saw him for a minute before they whisked me away. The cath showed absolutely no obstructions or blockages. I was put on the cardiac floor (not CICU) and remained there for 4 days as they struggled to get my blood pressure up. We celebrated on the third day when it reached 100. They did a chest X-ray and an echocardiogram. Everyone kept asking if I'd recently had a stressful event, what was I doing right before the pain etc. I was hooked up to a heart monitor continuously.
Diagnosis: Takotsubo cardiomyopathy - and I hate the trivializing name Americans have given it, the "broken heart syndrome". Symptoms mimic a heart attack but there are no blockages. Instead the heart takes an odd shape - similar to a Japanese octopus catcher bag/-a Takotsubo, hence the name when it was originally "discovered" in Japan. The heart is not pumping blood correctly because of this "blown out" shape. I was measured at 44% efficiency. Happens primarily in post menopausal women, is not very commonplace, and is usually precipitated by a stressful event such as death of a loved one, diagnosis of a serious illness or (trivializing it again) a sudden surprise like a surprise party! I am on Metoprolol and Lisiniprol - which I'd been put on by my PC physician about a month prior to this cardiac event, as my blood pressure was just a bit high. These medications are also given after a Takotsubo diagnosis.
I'm told this is totally reversible and takes 1 to 2 months to resolve. Will see cardiologist on August 1.
In meantime, I find I still tire easily and get out of breath - like I'm "pulling to breathe" after walking for a while - and I'm walking slowly. I've always walked fast! I am very frustrated that my breathing is labored after moderate exercise. I am nervous that I will not get back to my own self - able to run after grandchildren, get on floor and play with them, hiking, swimming and Zumba.
Has anyone else been diagnosed with Takotsubo and if so... How long did it take you to get back to your normal self in terms of exercise, breathing, and activity? They say anxiety and stress are not good for the condition. I'm knitting, reading, relaxing, walking. My husband is doing great - basically retired after his cardiac arrest. We are grateful for every day. I am only anxious and nervous that it is taking so long to be up and at 'em and my mind is playing with me and I begin to wonder will I ever be back to my old self? Which is my young 67 self!
I've read a lot about Takotsubo. I'm just hopeful to connect with other women who had this and are recovering now or have recovered and living their normal life. It's absolutely frightening - even though they say it was not a heart "attack" and it is a reversible condition. Anything when your heart is not working efficiently is frightening.