Squid Games

I know the title is a stretch but how else am I going to get your attention? Anyway, both octopus and squid are cephalopods. But what I am talking about here is takotsubo.

No, it’s not a new type of sushi. Takotsubo is Japanese for "octopus trap". It's a type of heart attack that affects mostly menopausal women, and gets its name from the shape a heart takes when this type of cardiomyopathy occurs. Yep, the lower left ventricle looks just like an octopus trap.

I thought it timely to bring up in February as it is Women’s Heart Health month and most of us celebrate/avoid Valentine's Day this time of year.

And, we have all gotten into some bad habits over the last few years, haven’t we?

So let me scare the bejesus out of you and hopefully educate and motivate you to make some changes at the same time. Here we go.

Tako-tsubo is Japanese for octopus(tako) trap (tsubo) and that is what the heart shape turns into when someone has this type of cardiomyopathy, usually brought on by stress.

It is also known as apical ballooning syndrome or “broken heart syndrome” because it can be brought on by extreme stress, oftentimes associated with strong emotional reactions.

And I would like to bring to your attention that this type of heart attack occurs mostly in women. In fact, 90% of these incidents are found in women between the ages of 58 to 75.

What scientists believe happens is that the sudden influx of stress hormones (ex: adrenaline) trigger change in the heart muscle and/or the blood vessels in the heart, thus preventing the left ventricle from contracting. It balloons out at the bottom instead, resembling the pot that traps an octopus.

It feels like a typical heart attack in that there is a tightening in the chest and a shortness of breath. There can also be palpitations, nausea, vomiting, and collapse associated with an event. Takotsubo can also affect men. But mostly, women in menopause. And thankfully, most recover.

What can trigger an attack?

Almost anything that causes a strong emotional or physical response such as: