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Stress Cardiomyopathy: Diagnosis, Pathophysiology, Management, and Prognosis

Sharma, Ajay K. MD*; Singh, Jagmeet P. MD, PhD; Heist, E. Kevin MD, PhD

Critical Pathways in Cardiology: A Journal of Evidence-Based Medicine: September 2011 - Volume 10 - Issue 3 - p 142-147
doi: 10.1097/HPC.0b013e31822f4d37
Review Article

Stress cardiomyopathy is now a well-recognized reversible cardiomyopathy, with a clinical presentation mimicking Acute Coronary syndrome in the absence of significant coronary artery disease. It is often encountered in postmenopausal females and is usually precipitated by acute emotional or physical stressors. In this review, we have attempted to summarize relevant data regarding diagnosis, typical and atypical presentations, pathophysiology, management options, and prognosis. Typically, patients present with chest pain and shortness of breath, transient electrocardiographic changes, moderate troponin elevation, and are found to have wall motion abnormalities (apical and midventricular akinesis with preserved basal segment systolic function) without obstructive coronary lesions, with complete resolution in next few weeks. The precise pathophysiology remains unclear, but excessive catecholamine stimulation, metabolic disturbances, and dysfunction of microcirculation are thought to be the underlying mechanisms.

From the *Department of Internal Medicine, Charlton Memorial Hospital, Fall River, MA; and †Cardiac Arrhythmia Service, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA.

Reprints: E. Kevin Heist, MD, PhD, Cardiac Arrhythmia Service, Massachusetts General Hospital, 55 Fruit Street, Boston, MA. E-mail:

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.