Joanie Simpson woke early one morning with a terrible backache. Her chest started hurting when she turned over.
Within 20 minutes, she was at a local emergency room. Soon she was being airlifted to a hospital in Houston, where physicians were preparing to receive a patient exhibiting the classic signs of a heart attack.
Meha the Yorkie
But tests at Memorial Hermann Heart & Vascular Institute -Texas Medical Center revealed something very different. Doctors instead diagnosed Simpson with Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, a condition with symptoms that mimic heart attacks. It usually occurs following an emotional event such as the loss of a spouse or child. That link has given the illness its more colloquial name: broken-heart syndrome.
In Simpson’s case, the event that she says tipped her over the edge was the recent death of her beloved Yorkshire terrier, Meha.
Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, also called apical ballooning syndrome or stress cardiomyopathy, typically occurs in postmenopausal women and may be preceded by a stressful or emotional event. The clinical presentation may be identical to that seen in patients with acute coronary syndrome.
Simpson certainly wasn’t shocked. At the time of what she calls her “episode,” she’d been having a rough stretch: Her son was facing back surgery. Her son-in-law had lost his job. A property sale was proving to be complicated and lengthy. Meanwhile, 9-year-old Meha was suffering from congestive heart failure.
Simpson was treated with an angiotensin-converting-enzyme (ACE) inhibitor and a beta-blocker. Once she was stable again doctors explained her condition to her and what had happened. She said it 'made complete sense.'
Simpson had to stay in the hospital for two days following her diagnosis, and she now has to take two heart medications. But she is otherwise healthy.
Simpson's 2016 experience is described this week in the New England Journal of Medicine - not because of the dog's role, according to one of her doctors, Abhishek Maiti, but because hers was a “very concise, elegant case” of a fascinating condition that research has established as quite real and sometimes fatal. Although not the first published case linking broken-heart syndrome to stress over a pet's death, it underscores something many animal owners take as a given: That grieving for sick or deceased pets can be as gutting as grieving for humans.
Even though Meha's death could have killed her, Simpson said she plans to get another dog in the future.
This just underlines what we as Yorkie owners already know. Our Yorkie is our life.
Please feel free to share this sweet story with your friends and family.
Thank you for reading and thank you for sharing.