Around 3,000 people per year in the UK suffer from the rare syndrome, which mostly affects women.
“This study has shown that in some patients who develop takotsubo syndrome, various aspects of heart function remain abnormal for up to four months afterwards,” said BHF associate medical director, Professor Metin Avkiran.
“Worryingly, these patients’ hearts appear to show a form of scarring, indicating that full recovery may take much longer, or indeed may not occur, with current care.
“This highlights the need to urgently find new and more effective treatments for this devastating condition.”
The team in Aberdeen used ultrasound and cardiac MRI scans to look at how their patients’ hearts were functioning.
The results showed that the syndrome permanently affected the heart’s pumping motion and delayed the “wringing” motion made by the beating heart.
The heart’s squeezing motion was also affected, and parts of the heart muscle suffered scarring, which affected its elasticity and prevented it from contracting properly.
Dr Dana Dawson, reader in cardiovascular medicine at the University of Aberdeen, who led the research, said: “We used to think that people who suffered from takotsubo cardiomyopathy would fully recover, without medical intervention.
“Here we’ve shown that this disease has much longer lasting damaging effects on the hearts of those who suffer from it.”
Figures show that between three per cent and 17 per cent of sufferers die within five years of diagnosis.
Around 90 per cent are female and the stressful trigger – often associated with the sudden death of a loved one – is identified in around 70 per cent of cases.
In the majority of cases however, the left ventricle returns to normal over a few days, weeks or months.