Broken Heart Syndrome Clinical Studies
Led by Harmony R. Reynolds, MD, associate director of NYU Langone's Cardiovascular Clinical Research Center, our upcoming broken heart syndrome clinical study aims to determine whether deep breathing is beneficial in people who have been diagnosed with the condition. Dr. Reynolds' research is funded by grants from the American Heart Association and the National Institutes of Health.
Takotsubo syndrome, also known as broken heart syndrome, is a temporary condition characterized by a sudden weakening of the heart's left ventricle, causing symptoms similar to that of a heart attack. This weakening may be triggered by acute physical or emotional stress such as the loss of a loved one.
Based on our previous research, we believe that an imbalance of the autonomic nervous system, which controls all automatic actions of the body, plays a critical role in Takotsubo syndrome. The autonomic nervous system consists of the sympathetic nervous system, which causes the body to become more active, and the parasympathetic nervous system, which is mostly involved in "rest and digest." Our research shows that women who have experienced Takotsubo syndrome have parasympathetic abnormalities, suggesting that correcting this imbalance may prevent another event by reducing a person's stress response to unpleasant situations.
Upcoming Tako-Breathe Study
Our Takotsubo syndrome study—known as the Tako-Breathe study—explores the effectiveness of daily deep breathing sessions in making people feel better, improving the function of the parasympathetic system, and reducing the risk of future heart events or death.
At the beginning of the study, during an office visit that lasts about an hour, you complete questionnaires about how you are feeling, and a technician draws blood, takes your blood pressure, and monitors your heart rate while you perform breathing exercises.
Half of participants are randomly assigned a daily deep breathing routine, which may or may not be aided by a device designed to guide your breathing. We do not know yet whether deep breathing using the device is useful or not. If you are assigned to the group using the deep breathing device, we will teach you how to use it. We also show all participants how to use an activity tracker and an electrocardiogram portable monitoring device (ECG patch).
Every two weeks for a total of 12 weeks, you wear the activity tracker and ECG patch for two days while going about your usual routine and noting if any symptoms or emotional stressors arise. Also, participants who are assigned to deep breathing practice guided deep breathing for 15 minutes a day for the 12 weeks. The deep breathing sessions can be done in your home.
At the end of the 12 weeks, you will come back to our office for the same testing in person. You will also complete the same questionnaires you submitted at the start of the study and return the activity tracker, ECG patch, and deep breathing device to us via mail.
To learn more about our study, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.