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Psychological Stress and Genetic Associations with Stress Cardiomyopathy

30 months
Approved budget:
Associate Professor Cameron Lacey
Health issue:
Proposal type:
Health Implications of the Canterbury Earthquake Project
Lay summary
The earthquakes in Christchurch triggered clusters of stress cardiomyopathy. The resulting well characterised, homogenous, cohort of 30 patients is unprecedented. Stress cardiomyopathy is a normally uncommon disorder that has been associated with significant earthquakes but usually occurs in sporadic fashion. The exact aetiology of stress cardiomyopathy remains unknown. Although a few candidate genes have been studied, no convincing cause has been uncovered. We propose to use the new technique of exome sequencing, where all coding regions in the human genome are rapidly sequenced, to identify underlying mutations in these patients. Our pilot study after the September 4th earthquake, found that women with stress cardiomyopathy were the most psychologically robust. However the mechanism of the interaction between the experience of stress associated with the earthquake and the resulting cardiomyopathy remains unknown. Our primary hypothesis is that stress cardiomyopathy is a rare Mendelian disease that is exposed with acute major stress.