When the worst headache becomes the worst heartache!

Abdul Hakeem, Adam D. Marks, Sabha Bhatti, Su Min Chang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE - Although a great deal of literature has been generated regarding left ventricular wall abnormalities, ECG changes and cardiac enzyme leaks associated with subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH), there have been only a few reports of true transient left ventricular apical ballooning syndrome in patients with SAH. Several pathophysiological mechanisms have been proposed to explain the unusual features of this syndrome, such as multivessel coronary vasospasm, abnormalities in coronary microvascular function, and catecholamine-mediated cardiotoxicity. SUMMARY OF CASE - A previously healthy 64-year-old woman with no history of vascular disease was found unresponsive at home. She was taken to the emergency room where a CT head revealed an SAH due to a ruptured aneurysm of the posterior communicating artery. On admission, an ECG showed deeply inverted T-waves and QT prolongation, typical of SAH. Cardiac troponin was measured at 1.2 ng/mL, and later increased to 3.7 ng/mL. A transthoracic echocardiogram on the next day revealed a large left ventricular wall abnormality, characteristic of apical ballooning with an ejection fraction of 25% to 30%. The patient remained hemodynamically stable and was started on low dose β-blocker and angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor. She had an uneventful cardiac recovery within 5 days at which time a repeat transthoracic echocardiogram revealed a normal ejection fraction with no wall motion abnormality. CONCLUSIONS - This report adds to the growing list of "stressors" for Takotsubo cardiomyopathy. Clinicians should be aware of the existence and the typical clinical manifestations of this syndrome, which is increasingly recognized in various populations. In particular, neurologists should consider this syndrome in the differential diagnosis of ECG changes and apical wall motion abnormalities in patients with SAH. Prognosis is generally very good with full recovery in most patients; however, there may be increased morbidity associated in patients with SAH.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3292-3295
Number of pages4
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2007


  • Broken Heart Syndrome
  • Subarachnoid hemorrhage
  • Takotsubo cardiomyopathy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Neuroscience(all)


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