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Unravelling the Mechanisms Underpinning the Broken Heart Syndrome

Professor Markus Schlaich, Institution: University of Western Australia

2020 Vanguard Grant

Years funded: 2021-2022


Takotsubo syndrome, also known as the broken heart syndrome, is an acute and commonly reversible heart dysfunction characterised by changes in the structure of the heart. The condition is frequently triggered by a sudden physical or emotionally stressful event. It has long been postulated that an excess of the “fight or flight” hormones adrenaline and noradrenaline (collectively called catecholamines) caused by substantial activation of the sympathetic nervous system in the heart might play a key role in the development of this syndrome.

However, this has not yet been proven, and the exact mechanism of Takotsubo syndrome remains subject to debate.  The research project aims to better understand the biological mechanisms that cause this syndrome. In this study, we will, for the first time, directly measure the amount of catecholamines released from the heart in affected patients and explore its association with impaired heart function characteristic of the condition. Understanding the relevant mechanisms will allow more tailored therapies to further improve the management and outcomes of patients suffering from broken heart syndrome.

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