ABERDEEN, Scotland — Scientists in Scotland are testing the first ever medical treatment for a broken heart.
Takotsubo cardiomyopathy — or broken heart syndrome — affects thousands of people each year, with estimates finding that it may be the cause of one to two percent of all heart attacks. Women are far more likely to experience the condition than men, according to previous studies.
Currently, there is little evidence of an effective therapy that helps alleviate symptoms or helps people dealing with a broken heart live longer. Now, researchers at the University of Aberdeen are conducting a trial of exercise conditioning and psychological therapy for people experiencing Takotsubo cardiomyopathy.
The study will span three years, thanks to a grant from the British Heart Foundation. The new trial will recruit 90 people from across Scotland within three weeks of doctors diagnosing them with this condition.
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Participants will either take part in personalized exercise conditioning, cognitive behavioral therapy, or skip either activity as part of a control group. Researchers will carry out detailed heart investigations after three months.
“Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, or broken heart syndrome, remains a comparatively poorly understood condition,” says Dr. David Gamble in a university release. “It is vital that we develop a high-quality evidence base to guide clinicians in the management of this condition.”
“In many clinical intervention trials, we are attempting to make incremental improvements to existing treatments, but as broken heart syndrome is at such an early stage there is no established treatment to use as a base.”
“We already know that cardiovascular disease affects men and women in different ways, so there is no reason why a one-size-fits-all treatment should work for broken heart syndrome,” adds Professor Dana Dawson.
“After so long spent researching this condition, it is great to be taking this huge step towards developing a standardized treatment for it and we look forward to seeing the results in due course.”
“Takotsubo syndrome is a sudden and potentially catastrophic heart condition which has only been recognized in recent years. As such, these trials to find the first ever treatment for the condition are a huge step forward and will play a significant role in increasing our understanding of this neglected area of cardiology,” concludes Professor James Leiper, Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation.
South West News Service writer Ellie Forbes contributed to this report.