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J Clin Monit Comput. 2010 Apr;24(2):101-5. doi: 10.1007/s10877-009-9217-5. Epub 2010 Jan 8.

Tako-tsubo cardiomyopathy and microcirculation.

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Department of Cardiology, University of Palermo, Palermo, Italy.



Takotsubo cardiomyopathy was described for the first time in Japan in the 1990s. It is very similar to the ischemic cardiopathy both for clinical and instrumental characteristics. His peculiarity is an alteration of the ventricular contraction mechanism with hypo-akinesis of the apex and lateral segments of the left ventricle, associated with hyper-kinesis of the heart base which is responsible for the typical echocardiographic aspect of a cruet during the systole. However, the etiology of this cardiomyopathy is still unknown despite the fact that numerous hypothesis have been made. A single study of 16 patients proved multivasal damage by a BLASH SCORE analysis of the coronary radiography. In our study, performed on 24 patients, we intended to assess the actual implication of the microcirculation by analyzing the TIMI frame count (TFC), so as reporting correlations between alterations of each single artery and its respective myocardial area.


Six Cardiology Centres performed an International multi-centre collection of a consecutive series of 24 patients, of which 20 were women and four men. The average age was 67.4 years. All patients admitted to one of the Cardiology divisions were previously listed for symptoms and signs of Takotsubo cardiomyopathy. An electrocardiographic (ECG), echocardio-gram and a hemodynamic study were carried out on each patient. The patients were evaluated with a follow up lasting 7 weeks. On the coronary radiography film, the microcirculation was examined by an analysis of the TFC according to the Gibson technique. The value obtained was considered pathological if it was >30 frames. The evaluation of the microcirculation by the TFC analysis showed that in 23 of the 24 patients there was a pathological slow down of the flow in the coronary micro- circulation. By analysing the number of involved vessels it was noted that nine patients had a slowdown of the general flow in all three vessels, six patients in only two vessels and the remaining nine in one vessel. In particular: in 14 patients there was an abnormal TFC in left anterior descending coronary artery (LAD), 16 in the right coronary artery (RCA) and 18 in the left circumflex coronary artery (LCX), while in one patient the picture quality in the acute phase did not allow an evaluation of the score in the RCA and in another patient in the LDA. None of the explored vessels that was responsible for the disorder of the microcirculation showed any stenosis.


From the data evaluated by us, microcirculatory dysfunction seems to be present very often during acute phases of Takotsubo illness, but it is not the only determining factor of the illness.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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