Hi Dr Gupta,
Having seen a post on the Takotsubo Facebook page I thought I would share my experience.
I was 51 at the time of my attack, which was seven years ago past June. Several weeks prior to my attack I was worrying intensely and always having a knot in my stomach, about a trip my 16yr old son was to take . With hindsight I was experiencing adrenaline surges but just felt this was me always on the go and being constantly busy. I had no underlying illnesses, and was in peak physical fitness attending the gym three to four times a week, working with a PT and had taken up climbing. The only medication I was on was Levothyroxine which seems to be a common denominator with Takotsubo.
One Saturday my family went with our climbing club to do some outdoor climbing. I climbed a 50ft rock face which was extremely difficult, challenging and exhilarating. As I came off the wall, and my feet touched the ground I felt something wash completely over my chest. I then experienced a heavy pain in the centre of my chest. I felt as if the pain was locked in a box and couldn’t be touched. As I began to feel nauseous my husband and I went for a walk and ended up walking twenty minutes back to our car.
By this time I felt something was wrong but did not suspect my heart.
Eventually after some deliberation we drove to Ninewells Hospital in Dundee. I was given two sprays of Nitro under my tongue, but this made no difference. My heart was being monitored and the pain by this time was very intense and not letting up at all. Then I was given codeine and paracetamol. This put the pain away, but I could still feel an underlying sensation and knew that the painkillers were only masking whatever was going on. No blood test was done on me. I went to Ninewells at 11.30 am and was released at 6.30 pm and told that they couldn’t find anything and that if the pain returned I should go to my GP.
We drove back to our home in Aberdeen and at 9.00pm the painkiller wore off and immediately the pain returned as fierce as it had been before I was given the painkiller. Now I was feeling quite ill and knew I could not sleep that night for fear I would not waken up again. I phoned NHS 24 who then arranged an ambulance for me.
At hospital, blood was taken and I was put up to a ward. Eventually, at 6.00am in the morning I was told I had taken a heart attack. I was taken up to the cardiology ward and was given standard heart treatment. An angiogram was performed where they found my heart had ballooned but no arteries were blocked. Much less was known about Takotsubo at this time, but they had obviously done some research to come to this conclusion. I was given a printed leaflet to read. I was released three days later with medication with no follow up appointment with a cardiologist. I was allowed to attend physical rehabilitation but this was only after the head heart nurse insisted. Dr Dana Dawson had decided at this time to research more into Takotsubo, and I agreed to take part in a study. I was given an MRI scan then and also three months later.
I attended physical rehab six weeks later, but for me I felt fine physically but mentally I was left with no help as this condition could not be properly explained to me or what long term effects I might suffer from this. My GP was very patient and understanding. I lost complete faith in my body and just shut my emotions down. I do feel that counselling after this event would have been very useful to me.
Last year Dr Dawson published a report on her latest findings which alarmed me somewhat, as what I had been told back then was different to what has been discovered now. I contacted her as I had seen no one for years and been on all the standard heart medication for six years. This worried me as it was all preventative and I had no real issues. I emailed Dr Dawson and explained my fears and was given an appointment. I had a scan and I was told my heart was fine, but she was shocked and apologised for the fact I had been left on medication all these years. In my opinion this was the fault of the hospital as they made no effort to keep in touch with me or instruct my GP on how long I should be on this medication.
Seven years later I keep good health but am just about to undergo private counselling as my happy button was switched off back then and I want to feel happiness again. The only heart medication I take is bisoprolol to keep my adrenaline levels in check.
I hope this insight helps in some small way.