Pathophysiology of Takotsubo Syndrome: JACC State-of-the-Art Review

J Am Coll Cardiol. 2021 Feb 23;77(7):902-921. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2020.10.060.


Takotsubo syndrome (TTS) has been a recognized clinical entity for 31 years, since its first description in 1990. TTS is now routinely diagnosed in patients who present with acute chest pain, electrocardiographic changes, troponin elevation, unobstructed coronary arteries, and a typical pattern of circumferential left ventricular wall motion abnormalities that usually involve the apical and midventricular myocardium. Increasing understanding of this intriguing syndrome stems from wider recognition, possible increasing frequency, and a rising number of publications focused on the pathophysiology in clinical and laboratory studies. A comprehensive understanding of TTS pathophysiology and evidence-based treatments are lacking, and specific and effective treatments are urgently required. This paper reviews the pathophysiology of this fascinating syndrome; what is known from both clinical and preclinical studies, including review of the evidence for microvascular dysfunction, myocardial beta-adrenergic signaling, inflammation, and electrophysiology; and where focused research needs to fill gaps in understanding TTS.

Keywords: Takotsubo stunning; Takotsubo syndrome; catecholamines; inflammation; pathophysiology; stress; β-adrenergic signaling.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / physiopathology
  • Autonomic Nervous System / physiopathology
  • Catecholamines / blood
  • Coronary Circulation / physiology
  • Humans
  • Microcirculation / physiology
  • Myocarditis / diagnostic imaging
  • Myocarditis / physiopathology
  • Myocardium / metabolism
  • Myocytes, Cardiac / physiology
  • Sex Factors
  • Stress, Physiological / physiology
  • Stress, Psychological / physiopathology
  • Sympathetic Nervous System / physiology
  • Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy / blood
  • Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy / physiopathology*


  • Catecholamines