First described in Japan, takotsubo cardiomyopathy is increasingly becoming recognized worldwide as a cause of sudden and reversible diminished left ventricular function characterized by left apical ballooning and hyperkinesis of the basal segments, often with symptoms mimicking a myocardial infarction. Associated with physical or emotional stress, its exact pathogenesis has not been established, though evidence supports a neurohumoral etiology. Additionally, recurrence of this condition is rare. In this report, we present a rare case of recurrent takotsubo cardiomyopathy in a post-menopausal woman who presented with transient neurological complaints on both occasions.
We present a rare case of a 76-year-old Caucasian woman with no history of congestive heart failure who presented to our emergency department twice with transient neurological complaints. On the first occasion, she was found to have transient aphasia which resolved within 24 hours, yet during that period she also developed symptoms of congestive heart failure and was noted to have a new, significantly depressed ejection fraction with apical akinesis and possible apical thrombus. One month after her presentation a repeat echocardiogram revealed complete resolution of all wall motion abnormalities and a return to baseline status. Seven months later she presented with ataxia, was diagnosed with vertebrobasilar insufficiency, and again developed symptoms and echocardiography findings similar to those of her first presentation. Once again, at her one-month follow-up examination, all wall motion abnormalities had completely resolved and her ejection fraction had returned to normal.
Though the exact etiology of takotsubo cardiomyopathy is unclear, a neurohumoral mechanism has been proposed. Recurrence of this disorder is rare, though it has been reported in patients with structural brain abnormalities. This report is the first to describe recurrent takotsubo cardiomyopathy in a patient with transient neurological symptoms. In our patient, as expected in patients with this condition, complete resolution of all left ventricular abnormalities occurred within a short period of time. It is important for clinicians to be aware of this increasingly recognized syndrome, including its association with recurrence, especially in the clinical setting of neurologic dysfunction.