What are the pathophysiology, diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis of this cardiomyopathy?

The damaging effects of stress on the cardiovascular system are widely documented and accepted by the general public and the medical community. A specific syndrome of stress-related reversible cardiomyopathy, however, has recently been observed with greater frequency. Increasingly referred to as the “broken heart syndrome,” this condition mimics myocardial infarction in patients without obstructive coronary artery disease. Initial signs and symptoms resemble those of acute coronary syndrome; chest pain, dyspnea, electrocardiographic (ECG) changes, and elevated levels of cardiac biomarkers are common.1 

It is important for critical care nurses to be aware of this syndrome and what differentiates it from classic acute myocardial infarction. Proper understanding will guide appropriate assessment, monitoring, management, and education of patients.

The hallmark of the syndrome is a characteristic transient contractile abnormality of the left ventricle causing a balloonlike morphology that can be detected...

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