"Broken Heart Syndrome" - Yes, It's Real

"Broken Heart Syndrome" - Is it real?

We’ve all heard someone say, “She died of a broken heart,” but it’s not just an expression.

Broken heart syndrome is an actual heart condition, often brought on by a stressful experience such as the death of a loved one.  The medical name for “broken heart syndrome” is stress cardiomyopathy. It is seven times more common in women than in men and most prevalent in people over 50 years old.

A person experiencing broken heart syndrome can have sudden chest pain or feel as if she or he is having a heart attack. Symptoms may include: chest pain, shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat, and overall weakness. According to Dr. Richard Kay, at ColumbiaDoctors Medical Group in Hawthorne, “It looks like a heart attack and feels like a heart attack, but there is no blockage in the artery.”

Although the cause of broken heart syndrome is unclear, apparently a surge of stress hormones, such as adrenaline, can temporarily damage the hearts of some people. Part of the heart temporarily enlarges and doesn't pump as well, while the remainder of the heart functions normally or with even more forceful contractions.

The good news: The symptoms of broken heart syndrome are treatable, and the condition usually reverses itself in about a week. “The heart muscle is stunned, but it gets better in time,” says Dr. Kay.

Other things that can cause the condition include: a frightening medical diagnosis, domestic abuse, a surprise party, having to perform publicly, and physical stressors such as an asthma attack, infection, a car accident, and major surgery.

Very rarely, a person actually dies of broken heart syndrome, but most people experience no long-lasting effects.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

chocolate lover March 01, 2012 at 09:24 PM
I experienced this cardiomyopathy after having surgery 7 years ago. I felt very week. When I went to the doctors my heart rate was over 200 bpm. They admitted me into the ICU for 3 days. I was also on beta blockers for 6 months. However, the good news my heart was pretty much back to normal in a week.


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