Tracee’s Story: Trekking in the Atacama Desert

Life prior to TTS

Tracee is a retired firefighter/police officer and prior to TTS she was slim and fit. Tracee had a history of inflammatory conditions including Sweet Syndrome, Raynaud’s disease, desquamative inflammatory vaginitis, cricopharangeal achalasia, skin cancer and breast cancer. She also has extreme levels of lipoprotein (a). Read her story below.

Takosubo trigger: Possibly physical exertion/heat stress/dehydration and altitude

I was on a trip in the Atacama Desert December 20th 2017. The elevation was 8000’ and it was hot. I may have been a bit dehydrated from the dry Atacama and previously Antarctic climate. I was walking around a salt flat, stopped for a dip and returned to my car. I felt sudden mild chest pain over my heart. I had sudden dizziness, enough to crouch down on the ground. Over the next 3 days while awaiting medical rescue, I had tachycardia 120bpm. I was finally rescued from the desert and transported to Santiago Chile by medical plane.

The day prior to my attack I had a startle running over an unavoidable small metal object which hit the undercarriage of my car with a loud bang. It caused me to stop and take a look. I had been physically active in the previous weeks, climbing hills in Antarctica and polar plunging. I had a previous year of long term caregiver stress while caring for my mom. If I had to guess, I’d say the heat and elevation combined with dehydration were the main trigger. Possibly a perfect storm of a combination of influences.

Medical Management

I was placed in cardiac intensive care for 5 days. Day 2 I was given the angiogram confirming Takotsubo. I was discharged on Coreg 2.5 mg 2x a day, 81 mg aspirin, and Lipitor 10 mg. I had no complications and a quick recovery. I now take bisoprolol 2.5 mg twice a day, zettia, niacin, and 81 mg aspirin.

Life after Takotsubo Syndrome

My recovery was very quick and easy. My last echocardiogram showed an ejection fraction of 73. I subsequently was diagnosed with DCIS breast cancer stage 0 BMX requiring no chemo, radiation or aromatase inhibitors. I had MOHS basal cell skin cancer surgery at the University of Michigan 4/18 and 6/19.
I find I’m more sensitive to heat and cold. My Raynaud’s is more pronounced (probably the beta blocker). I had a bubble echo to check for POV due to previous high altitude sickness and it was negative. My stress test post TTS came to a halt as I have LBBB induced by exercise. Brought on by TTS, I assume.
I had a cardiac clearance for what turned out to be a 6.5 hr surgery in addition to 3 shorter surgeries without incident.

Key Point: Sweet Syndrome is a rare inflammatory skin condition. Tracee knows of two other people who have Sweet Syndrome and have had Takotsubo Syndrome. Further information about Sweet Syndrome can be accessed from the National Organization for Rare Diseases (NORD) by CLICKING HERE.