German Researchers Explore Mystery of Broken Hearts
Published October 5, 2015
One of Europe's leading research centers, Charité Medical University in Berlin, is using a new device called AngioDefender to investigate a condition that is commonly called "broken heart syndrome". The disease has been given its name because it tends to occur in patients that have suffered severe emotional stress such as the death of a loved one. One of the mysteries surrounding the disease is that 90 percent of patients are women over 58.
Sufferers appear to be having a heart attack, but in fact they are suffering a sudden temporary weakening of the muscle walls of the heart which results in the heart changing shape.
Takotsubo cardiomyopathy- to give the disease its proper name- was not identified until the 1990s by Japanese researchers. They named Takotsubo after the elongated shape of the heart which is similar to the shape of octopus traps used by the countries fisherman.
Researchers speculate that hormonal changes may play a role and risk factors appear to include neurological and psychiatric disorders, although, data remains scarce.
Researchers are aware, however, that the endothelial cells that line every artery of the body play an important role in cardiovascular health. The scientist in charge of the German clinical trial, Dr. Ute Seeland, will be using the device known as AngioDefender, to help unravel one of the mysteries that surround the disease.
AngioDefender takes a series of measurements including a subject's blood pressure, pulse rate and importantly the ability of a subjects arteries to expand and contract to permit blood to flow as needed. In less than 20 minutes, information is produced by AngioDefender which is used to calculate the health of the single layer of endothelial cells lining the vascular system. If these cells are damaged, it might be due to severe stress or a subject's lifestyle, which in turn might suggest a possible treatment.
"It is very encouraging to know that our technology can be used by the world renowned Charité Research Centre to investigate a life threatening condition on which little is currently known," says Matt Bartlam the CEO of Everist Health, the developers of AngioDefender. "Our technology is non- invasive, low cost, simple to use and provides an immediate result which we believe will help researchers at Charité and around the world investigate many aspects of cardiovascular disease."
"Heart disease remains the number one killer in the world and is responsible for more deaths than all types of cancer combined," says Mr. Bartlam. "So, in addition to solving the mysteries of Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, we have to step up our research efforts to avoid breaking millions more hearts."
Notes for editors:
For more information on research into Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, contact Mrs. Dr. med.Ute Seeland (M. D.) at Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Berlin at Hessische Str. 3-4, D-10115 Berlin.
About Charité research:
There are over 4,500 scientists at the Charité Medical Faculty engaged in frontier biomedical research .
In 2014, the Faculty raised more than 151 million Euros from public and private investors to finance its research activities. This enabled it to secure a top position among the medical faculties in Germany and become the leader in Europe.