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Cardiovasc Revasc Med. 2014 Jan;15(1):35-42. doi: 10.1016/j.carrev.2013.09.008. Epub 2013 Oct 18.

Acute cardiac sympathetic disruption in the pathogenesis of the takotsubo syndrome: a systematic review of the literature to date.

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Department of Cardiology, Karolinska Institute at Karolinska University Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden. Electronic address:


Takotsubo syndrome (TS), also known as broken heart syndrome and neurogenic stunned myocardium, is an acute cardiac disease entity characterized by a clinical picture mimicking that of an acute coronary syndrome. The pathogenesis of TS has not been established yet. Among the most often debated pathologic mechanisms of TS are as follows: first, multi-vessel coronary spasm; second, myocardial microvascular dysfunction; third, aborted myocardial infarction caused by transient thrombotic occlusion of a long wrap-around left anterior descending artery; fourth, left ventricular outflow tract obstruction; fifth, blood-borne catecholamine cardiac toxicity; and sixth, cardiac sympathetic disruption and norepinephrine seethe and spillover. The aim of this review is to provide a thorough analysis of the literature data coming mainly from the neurological literature and dealing with the pathogenesis of TS. Substantial evidence challenging the first five hypotheses and arguing in favor of the hypothesis that acute cardiac sympathetic eruption and norepinephrine seethe and spillover is causing TS in predisposed patients is presented.


Apical ballooning; Broken heart; Cardiac sympathetic syndrome; Neurogenic stunned myocardium; Takotsubo

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