Broken Heart Syndrome Is Real!

Posted on Posted in Insider, Medical Coding Blog

Can you die of a broken heart? Apparently, the answer is yes. Here are tips to assign a code for this well-recognized cause of acute heart failure.

You might not be familiar with Takotsubo syndrome or stress cardiomyopathy, but when you hear its more commercialized term Broken Heart Syndrome, it will surely by more relatable.

BHS is an actual diagnosis used by doctors, nurses, clinicians, coders, and billers. The British Heart Foundation defines it as a temporary condition where your heart muscle becomes suddenly weakened or “stunned”. The left ventricle, one of the heart’s chambers, changes shapes and enlarges. This means that part of the heart doesn’t pump well that’s why two of the telltale signs that you might be having an episode of BHS are chest pain and shortness of breath.

And since we’re celebrating the love month, here are some little known facts about BHS:

  • It is stress induced and can strike at anyone no matter how healthy they are.
  • Some experts think that stress hormones adrenaline might be the culprit when they temporarily damage the hearts of people who have an episode.
  • It is often preceded by an intense physical and emotional event like death of a loved one, losing or winning a lot of money, job loss, and a surprise party.

To code this using the ICD-10-CM 2017 Expert Edition For Physicians and Hospitals, you can start looking at the Index To Diseases and Injuries using the main term “syndrome”.

If you tried to find “broken heart” under the main term, you’d be disappointed. The code is traceable using the subterm “takotsubo,” which gives you the ICD-10-CM code I51.81 Takotsubo syndrome.

Then, moving on to the book’s Tabular List, you can find I51.81 under subcategory 151.8 Other ill-defined heart diseases. Since the book indicates that coding for this diagnosis requires 5 characters, I51.81 should be enough.

Another way. to look up the code is by using “cardiomyopathy” as the main term, then under it, browsing down to “stress induced,” which brings you to the same code, I51.81 Takotsubo syndrome.