Stress cardiomyopathy of the critically ill: Spectrum of secondary, global, probable and subclinical forms

Indian Heart J. Jan-Feb 2018;70(1):177-184. doi: 10.1016/j.ihj.2017.04.005. Epub 2017 Apr 19.


Stress cardiomyopathy (SC) typically presents as potential acute coronary syndrome (ACS) in previously healthy people. While there may be physical or mental stressors, the initial symptom is usually chest pain. This form conforms to the published Mayo diagnostic criteria, is well reported and as the presentation is initially cardiac, is considered primary SC. Increasingly we see SC develop several days into the hospitalization secondary to medical or surgical critical illness. This condition is more complex, presents atypically, is not easy to recognize and carries a much worse prognosis. Label of Secondary SC is appropriate as it manifests in sicker hospitalized patients with numerous comorbidities. We review the limited but provocative literature pertinent to SC in the critically ill and describe important clues to identify global, subclinical and probable forms of SC. We illustrate the several unique clinical features, demographic differences and propose a diagnostic algorithm to optimize cardiac care in the critically ill.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Coronary Syndrome / etiology*
  • Cardiomyopathies / complications*
  • Critical Illness*
  • Humans
  • Risk Factors
  • Stress, Psychological / complications*