, Volume 95, Issue 3, pp 179-185
Date: 12 Jan 2006

Stress cardiomyopathy mimicking acute coronary syndrome: case presentation and review of the literature

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Stress cardiomyopathy is a novel clinical syndrome affecting predominantly elderly female patients. It is characterized by severe reversible left ventricular dysfunction demonstrating a peculiar pattern of extensive apical wall motion abnormality known as "apical ballooning". The syndrome is typically precipitated by acute severe emotional, psychological or physical stress. It mimics acute coronary syndrome exhibiting typical clinical and electrocardiographic features of acute myocardial infarction. At angiography, however, significant coronary artery disease is invariably excluded. In the acute phase, the syndrome may be complicated by cardiogenic shock or ventricular fibrillation. Clinical data indicate that the disease is associated with an extensive increase of endogenous cathecholamine levels which may exhibit a direct toxic effect on the myocytes causing non–ischemic myocardial "stunning". This mechanism may have important implications for the management of patients in the acute phase of the disease. The prognosis of stress cardiomyopahty, however, seems favorable with recovery of global and regional myocardial function within a few weeks in the vast majority of patients. Yet, long–term outcome data in larger patient populations are lacking. We report the case of a female patient presenting with stress cardiomyopathy and review the current knowledge of the disease.