Purpose: To evaluate directly recorded efferent sympathetic nerve traffic in patients with stress-induced cardiomyopathy (SIC). Background: SIC is a syndrome affecting mostly post-menopausal women following severe emotional stress. Though the precise pathophysiology is not well understood, a catecholamine overstimulation of the myocardium is thought to underlie the pathogenesis. Methods: Direct recordings of multiunit efferent post-ganglionic muscle sympathetic nerve activity (MSNA) were obtained from 12 female patients, 5 in the acute (24-48 h) and 7 in the recovery phase (1-6 months), with apical ballooning pattern and 12 healthy matched controls. MSNA was expressed as burst frequency (BF), burst incidence (BI) and relative median burst amplitude (RMBA %). One of the twelve patients in this study was on beta blockade treatment due to a different illness, at time of onset of SIC. All patients were investigated with ongoing medication. Results: MSNA was lower in patients with SIC as compared to matched controls, but did not differ between the acute and recovery phase of SIC. RMBA %, blood pressure and heart rate did not differ between the groups. Conclusion: MSNA is shown to be lower in patients with SIC compared to healthy controls, suggesting that sympathetic neuronal outflow is rapidly reduced following the initial phase of SIC. A distension of the ventricular myocardium, due to excessive catecholamine release over the heart in the acute phase, may increase the firing rate of unmyelinated cardiac c-fibre afferents resulting in widespread sympathetic inhibition. Such a mechanism may underlie the lower MSNA reported in our patients. © The Author(s) 2012.
Clinical Autonomic Research
259 - 264