Broken Heart Syndrome is Real

May 26, 2019


Broken Heart Syndrome Is Real

Yes, Virginia. Broken heart syndrome is real, and not a made-up, drama queen, attention-getting mechanism. The condition of broken heart syndrome is known medically as tako-tsubo cardiomyopathy. Its symptoms are similar to a heart attack, and can be just as serious, even fatal.


The most common cause of tako-tsubo cardiomyopathy is grief or stress from losing a loved one. One such case is the death of Debbie Reynolds, who died the day after her daughter, actress Carrie Fisher passed. "What we know is that for some people the stress of losing a loved one, or any kind of stressful event in your life, does precipitate a whole bunch of reactions in the physical body as well as in your mind that can cause disease and sometimes cause someone to pass away," heart surgeon Dr Nikki Stamp says.

Other causes or stressors include sudden drop in blood pressure, serious illness, surgery, or medical procedure (e.g., cardiac stress test), severe pain, domestic violence, asthma attack, receiving bad news (such as a diagnosis of cancer), car or other accident, unexpected loss, illness, or injury of a close relative, friend, or pet, fierce argument, financial loss, intense fear, public speaking, a surprise party or other sudden surprise. “The precise cause isn't known, but experts think that surging stress hormones (for example, adrenaline) essentially "stun" the heart, triggering changes in heart muscle cells or coronary blood vessels (or both) that prevent the left ventricle from contracting effectively.

This illness is literally dying of a broken heart, as described by Dr Stamp: “"What happens is in an acutely stressful event … there is a massive rush of adrenaline and it causes something similar to a heart attack. When it comes to tako-tsubo, we do actually see all of the tests that point to a heart attack.”


Broken heart syndrome, also known as stress cardiomyopathy, was first recognized in Japan in 1991. The name tako-tsubo was created after a patient's heart was said to resemble a Japanese octopus pot.[4] This disease is more frequent among women aged 58-75, with only 10% of patients being male.


Symptoms of broken heart syndrome include chest pains and sudden shortness of breath, and may occur abruptly. An echocardiogram test is usually conducted to determine the actual condition of the heart. After treatment, the heart condition stabilizes and the abnormal contractions disappear after one to four weeks.

 

[1] Scott, J. [2015, February]. When a Broken Heart Can Be Deadly. Retrieved from https://www.everydayhealth.com...

[2] ABC News. [2018, March]. Yes, you can die of a broken heart. Here's how. Retrieved from

 https://mobile.abc.net.au/news...

[3] Harvard Health Publishing. [n.d.] Takotsubo cardiomyopathy (broken-heart syndrome). Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu...

[4] ABC News. [2018, March]. Yes, you can die of a broken heart. Here's how. Retrieved from

https://mobile.abc.net.au/news...

[5]Harvard Health Publishing. [n.d.] Takotsubo cardiomyopathy (broken-heart syndrome). Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu...

[6] Scott, J. [2015, February]. When a Broken Heart Can Be Deadly. Retrieved from https://www.everydayhealth.com...