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    Tako-Tsubo: Can We Diagnose And Treat True Heartbreak?
    By Christie Sosa | April 25th 2011 11:01 PM | 30 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Christie

    Christie Sosa is a graduating senior in literary journalism at the University of California, Irvine. Her work has appeared in the New University...

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    In 2003, Rollin McCraty, the Director of Research at the Institute of HeartMath in Boulder Creek, California, published an e-book called The Energetic Heart: Bioelectromagnetic Interactions Within and Between People. In it he explains his research on an electromagnetic field created by the heart that he believes communicates with the brain and the body simultaneously, and affects those around us. In one study, McCraty monitored six longtime married couples’ heartbeats while they slept alongside each other. Both heartbeats fell into harmony, beating in sync. Electrocardiogram printouts of each person were laid on top of one another, revealing practically identical heartbeats and rates converging in nearly perfect synchronization—two hearts, as it were, beating as one. 

    If his observation sounds a bit too neat for mainstream science, it should. McCraty is a scientific entrepreneur. He inhabits the more respectable alternative edge of modern medicine and is something of a medical visionary. The HeartMath Institute where he works is a nonprofit charity whose main mission is to study the heart and teach people that health begins with the heart and to use this new understanding of the heart to solve many of the distressing—and still poorly treated—woes of modern life: stress, anxiety, worry, depression.

    For nearly two decades McCraty has been studying the heart and its relation to the brain, and how it affects one’s experiences and consciousness. Over time he has discovered what he calls “coherence:” when we are feeling happy or sad, the heart beats out the message and an electromagnetic signal reaches the brain instantaneously. McCraty believes his research has revealed that the heart is a sensory organ, with its own nervous system, able to remember, sense, and feel by itself without the brain. “The flow of intuitive information is heart, brain, body,” says McCraty, “and then the body responds and one becomes consciously aware.”

    McCraty also studies heart rate variability (HRV), a measurement of beat-to-beat changes in heart rate, also known as heart rhythm, and its relation to emotions. The heart’s rhythmic patter, McCraty explains, becomes erratic and chaotic when experiencing frustration, anxiety, or anger, while heart rhythms become harmonious and coherent when experiencing love or appreciation.

    We often think that everything we process and understand begins with the brain, but McCraty’s study in 2004, seemed to show just the opposite. In the study, “Electrophysiological Evidence of Intuition: The Surprising Role of the Heart,” published in The Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine 2004, participants were hooked up to various sensors monitoring heart and brain activity and their interaction with each other. Participants sat at a computer while an image would appear every few seconds, either a disturbing image (snake, car accident victim) or a “pleasant” image (flowers, sunsets). Although the participants were unaware whether a disturbing or pleasant image was to appear next, their hearts responded before an image was displayed, sending a message to the brain depending on what the future image was going to be.

    From this McCraty tentatively concludes: “It appears as though the heart and brain have access to a field of information not bound by time and space.”

    “Not bound by time and space”—might seem troubling, and although McCraty’s claims are fairly new, his research demonstrating the heart is the first organ to respond continues to slowly gain acceptance as more research is conducted.

    What is more than certain is that, for many, it is the first organ to fail.

    Heart disease is currently the leading cause of death, not only in the United States, but worldwide. Presently, the average life expectancy in the United States for both males and females is 78.1 years, ranking the U.S. 50th out of 223 nations. Although U.S. life expectancy has risen over the last decade, it has risen slowly compared to other nations, largely because of obesity and heart disease. In 2010, nearly 785, 000 Americans suffered from a coronary attack and an estimated 470, 000 Americans suffered a coronary attack for the second time.

    But there is another kind of heart attack that victims and doctors only recently, have recognized. It comes from a broken heart. Which wouldn’t surprise Rollin McCraty at all. 

    Four pieces make up the puzzle of the heart. Two small chambers called atriums reside above two larger chambers called ventricles. De-oxygenated blood flows steadily through the right chambers into the blood vessels of the lungs where it becomes oxygenated and makes its way in rivulets through the left side of chambers. The left ventricle is the final chamber blood streams through before entering the aortic valve, where it is then passed into different parts of the body.

    For this reason, it is the strongest and largest chamber in the heart because its undertaking is utterly crucial. As blood fills this chamber, it contracts, creating a powerful pressure that pumps the rich oxygenated blood through the aortic valve so it can be dispersed through the body. The heart performs this task tirelessly throughout our lives. At our joyous moments, when we are enchanted and overflowing with love, and during disheartening times, when perhaps we may not want it to, our hearts beat on.

    But for some, a stressful happening, trauma, or heartrendingly bad news can exhaust their hearts enough to disrupt the left ventricle’s timely contraction, beat, and blood flow. For most, just enough to be sent to the hospital only to fully recover within days or a week. For others, just enough to kill them.

    In 2005, Dorothy Lee and her husband, Dick Lee, were driving home from Bible study when they crashed into a curb. The crash was forceful. Dorothy looked over to her husband, saw his head move up and down, and then sink on his chest. After arriving at the hospital Dorothy was informed her husband died of a heart attack. On hearing the news, Dorothy got chest pains and eventually fell unconscious. Doctors performed an angiogram x-ray photo of her blood vessels and were certain she was suffering from a heart attack, as her husband did. But they saw no clot or clogged arteries in the x-ray. Only then did they realize she was suffering from a strange and, in some ways, very McCratian syndrome: tako-tsubo cardiomyopathy, TTC, or broken heart syndrome.


    Physiologically the syndrome operates in a well-understood sequence. Under stressful experiences or trauma, surges of catecholamines get released from the adrenal glands into the blood stream. Also knows as “fight-or-flight” hormones, catecholamines increase heart rate and blood pressure, preparing the body to survive. Unfortunately, the release of these hormones can arrive in such an outpouring surge of adrenaline and norephrineprine that it becomes toxic, numbing the heart. In TTC, what happens next is unique: a catecholamine concentration above the left ventricle stuns the tissue, altering its normal contraction. Un-treated, Dorothy Lee would have died within hours, if not for a quick diagnosis and a pump to aid her left ventricle in its contraction for the first few days. Within a week, Dorothy was released from the hospital, her heart functioning on its own.

    First discovered in Japan by Hikaru Soto in 1990, TTC is now recognized and diagnosed around the world, with more than 400 entries in the National Library of Medicine. The ballooning of the left ventricle into a bowl-like shape earned the syndrome’s name, tako-tsubo, Japanese for octopus trap. Normally, the ventricle contracts in the shape of a horseshoe, evenly, rhythmically, and steadily. In TTC, the heart weakens, as catecholamines stun the uppermost tip of the left ventricle, while the bottom spasms, causing the ballooning and round shape the chamber takes on.



    TTC is often mistaken for acute coronary syndrome because of the similarity of symptoms: chest pain, shortness of breath, electrocardiographic (ECG) abnormality, and high levels of cardiac biomarkers. But doctors will find no coronary blockage, the more common cause for the left ventricle to dysfunction. The diagnostic question was, well, if it’s not a heart attack, then what is it? What caused this impairment of the left ventricle was unknown.

    Before Hikaru Sato, known for naming the syndrome, there was cardiologist Kanji Iga, who in 1989 encountered the syndrome in a patient undergoing surgery to remove a tumor. His was the first case report of TTC, and Iga, like many doctors who would come after him, most likely took an angiogram expecting to see a clogged artery, only to find none. Iga knew it wasn’t a heart attack, and could do nothing but describe the syndrome, “left ventricle wall motion impairment” as a result of high catecholamine levels.

    Two years later, Sato and his colleagues reviewed the cases of 415 acute myocardial infarction patients and came across 5 patients with symptoms typically associated with heart attack, including difficulty breathing and chest pain but upon further examination found no blockage of their coronary arteries, a signature of heart attack, Sato observed. In the patients the top of the left ventricle was unable to make muscular movement, while the bottom of the ventricle was contracting wildly, resulting in a dome-like shape of the left ventricle. Miraculously, within seven days, akinesis, (movement impairment) in the top portion of the ventricle disappeared and the spasm below resolved. The heart healed itself. The tako-tsubo shape has become the syndrome’s signature, what doctors look at to confirm the diagnosis.

    Although the anatomy of TTC is no longer a mystery, the syndrome’s transiency certainly is. Within a few days or weeks, the left ventricle in most cases is back to normal, fully recovered and working, as if nothing happen.

    Since the first recorded case in 1990, more and more people have been diagnosed with the condition. Whether this increase stems from awareness, from an aging—and thus more easily heartbroken—population, or better diagnostics, one thing is certain: the most vulnerable are post-menopausal women. Writing in a recent issue of the International Journal of Cardiology, Austrian physicians Claudia Stöllberger and Josef Finsterer hypothesize that men, over time, have become biologically fitter and better at dealing with a rush of catecholamines than females. Males have historically endured more physical stress than females in terms of labor. Over time, males possibly developed various biological techniques for dealing with stress and catecholamines, specifically epinephrine and norepinephrine. Male heart muscle contains more adrenergic receptors than women do, and so better prepared to handle long-term, chronically elevated catecholamine levels.

    So why do more males die suddenly from cardiac arrest than females? Stöllberger and Finsterer suggest one answer: while males can handle more efficiently catecholamines over longer periods of time, their hearts have a lower breaking point than women, whose hearts seem better at fast self-repair. It’s possible males experience TTC but die immediately, before doctors recognize the left ventricle dysfunction and diagnose the syndrome. In which case, the cause of death is believed to be by heart attack, when it could be TTC.   Both hypotheses remain speculative. No research has been done that support either.  

    There are exceptions nevertheless. In 2009, a two-year-old girl in Germany, after undergoing surgery, was diagnosed with the syndrome. In March of 2010, the Journal of Trauma reported TTC in an 81 year-old-man after suffering from severe burn injuries. The same year, the Anesthesiology Intensive Therapy Journal reported the case of a 57 year-old-man who after being resuscitated from cardiac arrest, experienced left ventricle ballooning and impairment. His diagnosis was TTC.

    Hearts, often portrayed as delicate, are even more resilient. All around us we see heartache, broken-hearted people, and most of us know someone who has suffered from some type of heart failure. It’s easy to forget the strength of the heart, when so often we see the “broken” side in movies, in songs, in others’ lives, in our own.

    Angela Strong saw it in herself when her best friend of fifteen years, Jennifer, died at her side of terminal cancer. Six years ago, Jennifer was diagnosed with cancer, but like the fortunate few, won the battle. Until 19 months later, when she was diagnosed with chronic terminal breast cancer of the bones and told she only had months to live. Faithful, Angela drove Jennifer to her chemotherapy appointments, a time in which Jennifer shared her most personal thoughts and wishes to Angela. Jennifer didn’t want to die in the presence of her husband, or her two boys, or her parents. She did not want to be remembered for her last breath, but for her many.

    Jennifer and those around her tried to make life as normal as possible. Angela and family planned Jennifer’s birthday party even though Jennifer didn’t know if she’d make it to then. But she’d certainly try and she did. Even more than a birthday celebration, it was a celebration of Jennifer’s life and what was left of it. A week later, Angela found herself at Jennifer’s bedside whispering, “We are alone, you family is out of the room, if you would like to go now, you can. We all love you.” Jennifer opened her eyes to Angela, and closed them for the last time.

    The same day, Angela started getting severe chest pains. She managed to get through the night, but the next day was unbearable. She began to climb up the stairs of her house when, by the fifth step, she became dizzy and dropped to her knees. Miraculously, she managed to get herself up and drive to the ER, where the cardiologist on call noticed that her heart enzymes were up. After an angiogram, the doctor diagnosed TTC. At one point, Angela’s heart was beating merely 40 beats a minute. She was given aspirin and beta-blockers, which halt the stimulation of stress hormones that cause the heart to react. Like many, Angela’s left ventricle returned to normal within five days. Left untreated, Angela’s case was severe enough to have killed her.

    Susan Charles, a psychology professor at the University of California Irvine, studies emotions and how they correlate with health throughout a lifetime. Her ideas differ from the heart-as-ultimate messenger theories of McCraty, but only in explaining the possible mechanism for such suffering in tandem. “The heart responds to emotion,” says Charles. “We are used to seeing this person and producing opioids [feel good chemicals] when we see them. Then these chemicals no longer are produced and our body goes through withdrawals.” We meet people and our hearts no longer beat for ourselves but for someone else.

    When we become attached to someone, live with him or her and love him or her, everything about our life we can only think of in relation to the time before and after we met this person. For they see us when we weep, when we smile, through good and bad, the people you love and who love you back, are with you. Our bodies adapt and rely on this person to be there for us.

    In the name of love, new life is brought forth and so it’s only natural that, in the name of love, life can end and when it does, and this person we love is suddenly gone, it’s all but impossible to find peace.

    Christie Sosa is a graduating senior in literary journalism at the University of California, Irvine. Her work has appeared in the New University, Student Health 101, and various blogs. She is currently freelancing and resides in Whittier, CA. This is her first article for Science2.0

    Comments

    vongehr
    This article advertises pseudo-science over such large stretches without proper distancing that a big red flag must be raised. Who featured this crap? EM woo synchronizing loving hearts? The sound of an old clock can synchronize your pet's heart - so absolutely normal is synchronization between oscillators - no love or instantaneous EM interactions published in the The Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine are necessary!
    More women on a science blogging platform is desirable, but featuring pseudo-science is not the answer. This article needs to be rewritten or put on the Huffington Post.
    OK, It's official: scientists still can't handle those darn, independent-minded female journalists!

    A few things

    1. Using an off the grid expert--and acknowledging it with three red flags in the first 500 words--is a time-honored way of setting up a serious discussion--"this seems far fetched, but wait, let's look at this strange medical science"

    2. Gosh, it's just like opening a journal article as recently as *1996 and seeing nanotech branded as a "fantasy, a cargo cult, and outright magic"--and then still daring to write about it!

    3.The Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine--no, JAMA it ain't. Just as, say, the Journal of Colloid Interface ain't no Nature Nanotech!

    4.Writers appearing in Huffington Post: Robert Reich, Al Gore, Christopher Hitchens, etc...and, O-effing-kay--Deepak Chopra!

    5. for a good example of true over-reaching go to:http://ieet.org/index.php/IEET/more/vongehr20110412

    thank you.

    *http://www.foresight.org/SciAmDebate/SciAmLetters.html

    Hank
    5. for a good example of true over-reaching go to:http://ieet.org/index.php/IEET/more/vongehr20110412
    Touché.  Though whenever I think he is being a teensy bit hard on new people (and why introduce gender into it?  No idea, there is no Title IX program at Science 2.0) I point out his now-classic 9/11: Science predicted the Castration of a Phallus Symbol.
    vongehr
    And why would "over-reaching", if it indeed occurred, have even anything to do with clearly advocating pseudo-science like ESP, instantaneous interaction, talking meaningless woo and so on? You may not grasp my articles that you link to or dislike their conclusions, but that is very different from the author pushing esoteric on a science site. You are welcome to criticize any aspect where I have used any non-standard science without clear disclaimers and pointing out what kind of perhaps novel, unproven assumptions go into the argument. I dare you to find anything even near the sneakiness of Dr. Mercola style “Not bound by time and space”—might seem troubling ... continues to slowly gain acceptance as more research is conducted.
    vongehr
    "those darn, independent-minded female journalists!"
    Independent? Read the article, forget for a moment that you like the author personally, and ask yourself how independent it is to so naively regurgitate the woo the "off the grid expert" (did you mean off the wall?) gave.
    off the grid expert--and acknowledging it with three red flags in the first 500 words--is a time-honored way of setting up a serious discussion--"this seems far fetched, but wait, let's look at this strange medical science"
    Yeah, well, you seem to forget the audience here. In terms of the audience here, she failed (see Gerhard's valid remarks below).
    seeing nanotech branded as a "fantasy, a cargo cult, and outright magic"--and then still daring to write about it!
    Can you make your point less veiled? See the comments below. She basically advertises for ESP here. That is very different from hyping nanotech.

    You compare The Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine to the Journal of Colloid Interface? Apparently you have no idea about Colloid Interfaces!
    Writers appearing in Huffington Post: ...and, O-effing-kay--Deepak Chopra!
    That is exactly my point.
    over-reaching go to:http://ieet.org/index.php/IEET/more/vongehr20110412
    You may not understand that article, and that is OK. And maybe there is indeed some overreaching. But what has overreaching to do with somebody either advertising pseudo-science or being at least naive about how her writing is understood by a very large fraction of the casual Science2.0 audience?

    And it is not just the first 500 words either, though they are especially bad, that I admit. I welcome her to start writing about science and improving, after all, she is still less pseudo-sciency then some other physics crack-pots on Science2.0. But featuring such pseudo-science because she is your favorite cute student or something? That is not what a science site should be about!

    Greg, the writing is just too bad, the level too laughable. What does all this woo about the heart being its own nervous system even mean? It is an organ for crying out loud. My kidney, my big toe, my ass has its own nervous system and uses EM communication, though none do it "instantaneously", and certainly not backwards in time!!!

    BTW, if you have any valid (that would mean well argued scientific) points against anything I wrote, you are very welcome to comment.
    I would have to say that her writing so surpasses your own as to be laughable

    vongehr
    Well Greg, if you have any criticism about my posts, you are welcome to comment there. As of now, it just seems as if you have not got the necessary scientific education to grasp my posts and so you poo-poo them because of the writing. Come back to me if you can even write a tenths as insightful and original science based stuff in, say, the German language (which is my mother tongue).
    We are adults on a science site here, so, get your head out of your behind and deliver arguments. You pushed badly framed pseudo-science on a science site. That's a fail. That maybe I fail somewhere else is totally beside the point!
    Hank
    The sticky point is early:
    Although the participants were unaware whether a disturbing or pleasant image was to appear next, their hearts responded before an image was displayed, sending a message to the brain depending on what the future image was going to be. 

    From this McCraty tentatively concludes: “It appears as though the heart and brain have access to a field of information not bound by time and space.”
    Obviously you were not saying that, he was, and you qualify it with “Not bound by time and space”—might seem troubling" but it will cause some science people to just stop reading.

    To answer Sascha's question on who featured it (since we have multiple moderators) I did - Greg Critser has been here since practically the day we started and if he says it should be featured, I feature it.   He knows what he is doing in training journalists and that includes them sometimes getting kicked around a little for not asking the awkward questions of a researcher who claims the heart has ESP.
    Gerhard Adam
    Although the participants were unaware whether a disturbing or pleasant image was to appear next, their hearts responded before an image was displayed, sending a message to the brain depending on what the future image was going to be.
    That's a neat trick.  So the heart now has sensory input data available to it?  or are we simply to assume that it's psychic energy from the ether?
    Mundus vult decipi
    Hank
    We sometimes jump on people for injecting themselves into speculative topics and now we are jumping on someone for not injecting their personal opinion enough.   :)    She was tasked with creating a narrative, not disproving the heart has ESP and arguing with a researcher, who has basically heard it all before and would have shut down.
       
    Greg, her teacher in the class this was done for, told me a story once about having to interview Murray Gell-Mann and injecting himself into the narrative when he should have just let a polymath have the floor.  It went as well as you'd expect.

    If she goes into this as a career she will learn the fine art of being objective without feeling the need to be balanced.   If a field has 95% of people right and 5% wrong it isn't doing a service to readers to give both equal time but if she gets tasked by an editor with "do a story on literal heartbreak" and the interview ends after 30 seconds, it looks bad for her.   At my stage in life talking to scientists, and certainly Greg's, holding up a hand and saying, "Are you telling me the heart has ESP?" would go over a little less confrontationally.
    Gerhard Adam
    I understand your point, but the question still remains ... what if an editor wants a report on an interview regarding creation science?  or the latest intelligent design theory?

    At which point does journalism simply become PR for whoever wants the floor?

    I can appreciate the fact that you don't get confrontational in the interview, but how do you get to ask the "hard questions" if you're afraid to offend? 
    Mundus vult decipi
    Hank
    Plenty of journalists have to write stories on things they don't believe; if you read the Twitterfeed for the overwhelming number of journalists on Twitter, they are hard left Democrats but you wouldn't know it to read their articles.   On that topic specifically, here is good journalism - if we were to ask a journalist to write a piece on intelligent design and he comes back and says, 'it is total nonsense but I found out that among all the atheists I spoke with who say ID is stupid and evolution rules, not a single one understood adaptive radiation either' well, there is your story.    And that journalist did a pretty good job finding an interesting  hook that came from nothing he got sent out to find.   There is nothing intellectually or ethically superior to being a PR flack for any group but not asking awkward questions, because the science is settled and no one wants to risk promoting anything bad, is what killed science journalism.

    I would say being concerned about promoting an incorrect position, and therefore not covering it at all, is worse than the risk wrong people may get publicity.
    Gerhard Adam
    I'm not concerned with the issue of covering a story, but it seems to me that a key element missing from much of journalism is basic fact checking.  I'm not suggesting that this occurred in this story, nor do I want to level this as a criticism here. 

    However, you know how this particular article is going to sound when it is read by the general public.  In the first place, it will lend credence to the idea that there is now scientific proof that our hearts are the seat of our emotions, and that this is something the average person has known for centuries, and now science is finally coming around to acknowledging the common wisdom.

    It doesn't matter, that this isn't want was actually reported, but that's how it will play.  So, in the end, was science made more accessible?
    Mundus vult decipi
    Hank
    Perhaps I am more optimistic than you.  We let that guy's "LHC will doom the world" article stay precisely because the commentary would point out the flaws, ditto with Helen Barratt's LHC will change gravity or whatever that was.   It isn't like Christie has shown up insisting the heart has ESP because some guy said so.    If we only publish things based on how we think anyone in the audience will respond or misunderstand, we are finished.  Instead, we give the audience credit for being pretty smart.   I doubt we would be the only ones who read this and think "Fine writing, but this part about the heart and images, do you mean...?"
    Gerhard Adam
    I have no quarrel with you regarding a blog post, or an article.  It's more of a problem to me when we consider it journalism.  Primarily, because journalism doesn't provide the opportunity for such commentary to occur, so (in my view) it's a bit more narrow a focus.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    We let that guy's "LHC will doom the world" article stay precisely because the commentary would point out the flaws, ditto with Helen Barratt's LHC will change gravity or whatever that was.
    Can you at least quote what my blog was about correctly instead of making me out to be even stupider than I am? Why is that difficult for someone who thinks they are so scientific and objective?

    In my blog I simply asked laywoman questions of scientists/experts about the weakening geomagnetic force and possible polar reversal and proposed a hypothesis that the thousands of nuclear reactors and particle collidors around the world, could somehow be releasing an energy that is adversely affecting the geomagnetic force and shield somehow.

    You know that the hypothesis was not in any way saying that the LHC will change gravity because you and Gerhard made plenty of attacking comments to point out the various flaws in the logic and also in my comments. I have no problem with that but no one likes to be misquoted.

    My latest forum article 'Australian Researchers Discover Potential Blue Green Algae Cause & Treatment of Motor Neuron Disease (MND)&(ALS)' Parkinsons's and Alzheimer's can be found at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Hank
    As the comments changed, so did your arguments and supporting statements and then the article itself.  So I can't quote what it was all about at the end because you couldn't either.  My point was, obviously poorly written reference to your piece aside (sorry for that), that sometimes things have value because if you are asking it, maybe other people are, and the value is in the comments that clarify things.
    vongehr
    "Fine writing, but this part about the heart and images" No, it starts in line three with "Bioelectromagnetic Interactions" about something that is plain accoustics/mechanics, and then it goes on and on, one woo thing after the other, with the main point not even being the science being wrong, but in fact the writing style not being "fine", but clearly what one is used from say astrology or homeopathy, the low point in my eyes being the naive reurgitation of the heart having its own nervous system. What is this supposed to accomplish? My ass has its own nervous system and senses stuff and communicates! This is not fine science writing, this is bad science writing!
    "I'm not concerned with the issue of covering a story, but it seems to me that a key element missing from much of journalism is basic fact checking. I'm not suggesting that this occurred in this story, nor do I want to level this as a criticism here. "

    but you...kind...of....did--didn't you?

    Gerhard Adam
    Well, actually no, because I realize that the journalists job isn't to provide peer review, so in a case like this, the area is much more gray.  When I wrote that comment, I was actually thinking more of political journalists that seem to generally ignore actual facts simply to get some kind of story.

    So I am trying to be sensitive to the idea that there is the objective of covering a story, and recognizing that the journalist's job is not to peer review the data, so I was being somewhat vague about the role of "fact-checking" in this context when the "facts" themselves may be in dispute, or not necessarily accepted (which is often the state in science).

    What I was hoping for, is that the journalist's role in science reporting was to become a kind of spring-board to additional data by perhaps providing links or titles that could be further researched by the interested reader so that a more accurate view of the current state of knowledge is provided.

    As it stands right now, I'm left with the idea that this isn't much different than stories about water memory and labeling rice jars to gauge their emotional effects.

    Mundus vult decipi
    i see no evidence of anyone being afraid to offend in any of this!

    Gerhard Adam
    Sorry, but I'm stuck on a heart responding to a future image, which gets sent to the brain.

    It's not satisfying to read that this viewpoint "continues to slowly gain acceptance".  What research is going on?  What's the basis for such a claim?  Who's actually "accepting" such a viewpoint?

    This is kind of a big sticking point.
    Mundus vult decipi
    "research demonstrating the heart is the first organ to respond continues to slowly gain acceptance"--thats what the article says, not "viewpoint" it does not say that his ESP theory is being accepted

    and tako tsubo and its strange sequelae is tendered as one such example

    anyway, you're stuck--but thanks for paying attention to this!

    Gerhard Adam
    Since it follows the sentence where it indicates that the heart responds first to the image ... well, it certainly suggests that the ESP theory is being accepted.  I'm not clear what else it might be distinguished from?
    Mundus vult decipi
    vongehr
    Greg, the discussion down here is now stuck on the fact part and the ESP part. Since you teach writing, I feel it may be worthwhile to turn this discussion to the finer points, because this article does precisely fail in the writing more than the fact department - after all, it is not she who claims the facts. Pseudo-science isn't just about the facts, it is for example about framing and all that. For instance, if "McCraty believes his research has revealed that the heart is a sensory organ, with its own nervous system", the fact that the heart senses stuff and has a nervous system and communicates is certainly true. A journalist should immediately pick up on that this is a sneaky way of insinuating rebel status against the backwards establishment, as if usual medicine denies or conspires against the poor heart having a nervous system. My ass senses stuff and has its nervous system, all organs communicate all the time employing many different pathways - nobody in science denies that. McCraty's research reveals this??? Taking such crap over into the article, even with "McCraty believes ...", is precisely what we want science writers not to do. This should have been either left out or completely reworded so that it discredits the research rather than supporting it.
    Hank
    This is a terrific point, and you finally got to it in a constructive way she can use.  I have long said that that science journalism is a dying art because of that "ask the awkward questions" thing I harp on every week and you're saying essentially the same.   A researcher is enthusiastic and perhaps even likable and writers want to be liked, especially if this is an assignment and not a career, so if the material is unfamiliar it may seem reasonable to just cite it as a real possibility.

    I think her writing is good but if journalists don't yet have a smell test for what is real versus pseudoscience, hopefully an editor will.


    i'd say first examine thy own writing, bro--really

    vongehr
    Well Greg, if you have any criticism about my posts, you are welcome to comment there. As of now, it just seems as if you have not got the necessary scientific education to grasp my posts and so you poo-poo them because of the writing. Come back to me if you can even write a tenths as insightful and original science based stuff in, say, the German language (which is my mother tongue).
    We are adults on a science site here, so, get your head out of your behind and deliver arguments. You pushed badly framed pseudo-science on a science site. That's a fail. That maybe I fail somewhere else is totally beside the point!
    Gerhard Adam
    I guess the problem I have is that actual scientific data is being intermixed with pseudoscientific claims as if they are linked together.  Clearly, Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy is an actual condition and (as pointed out in the article) has a specific physiological sequence that is understood.

    Of course, there's absolutely nothing in that physiology to suggest that the condition originates in the heart.   So, I'm at a loss to understand what the point of the beginning and ending sections of this article are for.  They contribute nothing except to distract from the medical information by making the entire presentation suspect.

    I'm equally not clear why a discussion of this sort warrants input from a psychologist.  This is even more distracting and seems to suggest that there is a different message being presented here than the actual physiology of TTC. 

    Based on the title of the article, it seems that the individuals quoted are well outside the actual science of this topic and represent nothing except an excursion into speculative fantasy.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Hey guys lighten up. It all makes perfect sense... if you don't think about it to much... and take another toke... [snerk...erp] cool man, the heart has a tardis in it!