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Cardiologists have recently recognized a reversible form of heart failure of unknown origin characterized by a takotsubo-shaped hypokinesis of the left ventricle on left ventriculography.To clarify the clinical features of this cardiomyopathy.Observational study.Seven patients with reversible ventricular dysfunction were followed for 4.5 years. Clinical course, routine examinations, and cardiac catheterizations in each patient were documented.The cardiomyopathy developed in six elderly female and one male patients (mean age 75.3 years), all of whom had been exposed to stress. Cardiac enzymes did not significantly increase, but serum norepinephrine increased remarkably (1.19 ng/ml). Coronary angiography revealed normal coronary arteries. However, left ventriculography showed akinesis in the apical segments, together with hyperkinesis in the basal segments (a takotsubo shape). The abnormal kinesis normalized within 17.4 hospital days without any treatment in five patients, and with haemodynamic support for 3 days in the other two. Endocardial biopsies did not suggest any specific pathology. The cardiac events did not recur over a 1–4 year follow-up.Coronary vasospasm, myocarditis and other substantial diseases previously described were ruled out as the cause of takotsubo cardiomyopathy in our subjects. Prognosis was good without any form of treatment, provided that the patients survived the severe heart failure state. Catecholaminergic or adrenoceptor-hyperactive cardiomyopathy may be the cause of this cardiomyopathy.