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Symptoms in patients with takotsubo syndrome: a qualitative interview study
  1. Sara Wallström1,2,
  2. Kerstin Ulin1,2,
  3. Elmir Omerovic3,4,
  4. Inger Ekman1,2
  1. 1Institute of Health and Care Sciences, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden
  2. 2University of Gothenburg Centre for Person-Centred Care (GPCC), Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden
  3. 3Department of Cardiology, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Gothenburg, Sweden
  4. 4Department of Molecular and Clinical Medicine, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden
  1. Correspondence to Sara Wallström; sara.wallstrom{at}


Objective The aim of the study was to investigate the meaning of narrated symptoms in connection to takotsubo syndrome.

Design, method, participants and setting Qualitative study consisting of 25 interviews, 23 women and 2 men aged 39–84 and living in Region Västra Götaland, Sweden. The transcribed text was analysed with phenomenological hermeneutics.

Results The interviewees reported a large number of symptoms before, during and after the acute onset of takotsubo syndrome, including pain, affected breathing, lassitude, malaise and nausea. Several of these have not been reported previously. Symptoms before the acute onset were, even if they had been prominent, ignored by the interviewees for various reasons. During the acute phase, the symptoms could no longer be ignored and the interviewees sought healthcare. The remaining residual symptom after discharge from hospital caused a great deal of worry because the interviewees feared that they would be permanent and they felt they could not live this way. On the whole, becoming ill and having a large number of symptoms greatly impacted the lives of the interviewees and made them re-evaluate how they had been living. Furthermore, they reported feeling alone and lost regarding their symptom burden, especially in relation to their residual symptoms, which affected their health and ability to return to daily life.

Conclusions Acute symptoms, and symptoms before and after the acute ones, are a major part of the illness experience for patients with takotsubo syndrome and affect their health and well-being. Assessment of symptoms should be an integrated part of care to promote health. One way of achieving this is through the patients’ own narratives of their experiences, which are an important component in person-centred care.

  • takotsubo syndrome
  • symptoms
  • illness experience
  • phenomenological hermeneutics
  • qualitative method

This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See:

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  • Contributors SW contributed to design and planning of the study, conducting and analysing the interviews, and writing and reviewing the manuscript. KU contributed to designing and planning the study, analysing the interviews, and writing and reviewing the manuscript. EO contributed to designing and planning the study and reviewing the manuscript. IE contributed to designing and planning the study, conducting and analysing the interviews, and writing and reviewing the manuscript.

  • Funding This research was supported by the Centre for Person-Centred Care (GPCC), University of Gothenburg, Sweden. GPCC is funded by the Swedish Government's grant for Strategic Research Areas, Care Sciences (application to Swedish Research Council no. 2009-1088) and cofunded by the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. It was also supported in accordance to the Swedish agreement between the government and the county councils concerning economic support for providing an infrastructure for research and education of doctors (ALF). Swedish Heart and Lung Association, the Emelle Fund and the Royal and Hvitfeldtska Foundation also contributed to the funding of the study.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval Regional Ethical Review Board of the University of Gothenburg.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement No additional data are available.

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