From the Journals

Takotsubo syndrome more deadly in men



Takotsubo syndrome occurs much more frequently in women than it does in men, but men are much more likely to die from it, according to the results of a new study.

In an analysis of almost 2,500 patients with Takotsubo syndrome (TSS) who were enrolled in an international registry, men, who made up just 11% of the sample, had significantly higher rates of cardiogenic shock and were more than twice as likely to die in the hospital than their female counterparts.

The authors concluded that TSS in males requires close in-hospital monitoring and long-term follow-up. Their study was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Takotsubo syndrome is a condition characterized by acute heart failure and transient ventricular contractile dysfunction that can be precipitated by acute emotional or physical stress. It affects mostly women, particularly postmenopausal women, although the reasons for this are still not fully clear, Luca Arcari, MD, from the Institute of Cardiology, Madre Giuseppina Vannini Hospital, Rome, and colleagues wrote.

The syndrome also affects men, and recent data have identified that male sex is associated with worse outcomes. But, because it occurs relatively uncommonly in men, information about outcomes in men is limited.

To shed more light on the influence of gender on TTS, the investigators looked at 2,492 TTS patients (286 men, 2,206 women) who were participants in the GEIST (German Italian Spanish Takotsubo) registry and compared the clinical features and short- and long-term outcomes between the two.

Male patients were significantly younger (69 years) than women (71 years; P = .005) and had a higher prevalence of comorbid conditions, including diabetes (25% vs. 19%; P = .01); pulmonary diseases (21% vs. 15%; P = .006); malignancies (25% vs. 13%; P < .001).

In addition, TTS in men was more likely to be caused by physical triggers (55% vs. 32%; P < .01), whereas emotional triggers were more common in females (39% vs. 19%; P < 0.001).

The investigators then performed a propensity score analysis by matching men and women 1:1; this yielded 207 patients from each group.

After propensity matching, male patients had higher rates of cardiogenic shock (16% vs 6%), and in-hospital mortality (8% vs. 3%; both P < .05).

Men also had a higher mortality rate during the acute and long-term follow up. Male sex remained independently associated with both in-hospital mortality (odds ratio, 2.26; 95% confidence interval, 1.16-4.40) and long-term mortality (hazard ratio, 1.83; 95% CI, 1.32-2.52).

The study by Dr. Arcari and colleagues “shows convincingly that although men are far less likely to develop TTS than women, they have more serious complications and are more likely to die than women presenting with the syndrome, Ilan S. Wittstein, MD, of Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, wrote in an accompanying editorial.

In an interview, Dr. Wittstein said one of the strengths of the study was its size.

“Over the years, there have been a lot of smaller, single center studies. This large registry had over 2,000 patients. So when the researchers say the rate of TTS is 10% in men and 90% in women, this is not necessarily surprising because that’s about the breakdown we’ve had since the very beginning, but it certainly validates that in a cohort that is large,” he said.

“I think what was novel about the paper is that the size of the cohort allowed the researchers to do propensity matching, so they were able not only to compare men versus women, they could do a 1:1 comparison. And they found even when you match men and women for various comorbidities, the men were much sicker

“What makes this a fascinating syndrome and different from most types of heart muscle problems is that, in the majority of patients, the condition is precipitated by an acute stressor,” said Dr. Wittstein.

“It can either be an emotional trigger, so for instance, getting some bad news that a loved one just died. That’s why we nicknamed the syndrome ‘broken heart syndrome’ many years ago. Or it can be a physical trigger, which can be a wide variety of things, such infection, a stroke, bad pneumonia, anything that stresses the body and causes a stress response. Regular heart attacks are not triggered in this way,” he said.

Dr. Arcari and Dr. Wittstein reported no relevant financial relationships.

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