Broken Heart Syndrome: The Symptoms And How To Handle Them

Date November 27, 2017

Stress is an integral part of our lives. We don’t think there are any ways to avoid stress altogether. And sometimes, it becomes too much and leads to a condition known as broken heart syndrome.

Broken heart syndrome (also called stress-induced cardiomyopathy or takotsubo cardiomyopathy) is a heart condition that manifests in ways similar to a heart attack. It is usually caused by emotional stress, but physical stress can trigger the condition, too. A stressful event causes a rise in levels of stress hormones, which leads to broken heart syndrome.

Broken heart syndrome can affect everyone, even people with healthy hearts. According to the statistics, women are more likely to develop the condition than men. Recurrence of broken heart syndrome is unlikely.

In broken heart syndrome, a part of the heart temporarily enlarges and can’t pump blood properly, but the rest of the organ continues working well or with more forceful contractions. Patients diagnosed with broken heart syndrome usually recover within a few days or weeks.

The symptoms of broken heart syndrome are identical to those of a heart attack. They include:

  • chest pain;
  • rapid or irregular heartbeat;
  • shortness of breath.

Because heart attack and broken heart syndrome share similar symptoms, it’s hard to tell these two apart. But they both require urgent medical attention, so if you experience the symptoms described above, call the ambulance immediately.

Broken heart syndrome usually happens to people who have recently experienced emotional or physical stress. Events (they aren’t always negative) that can trigger the syndrome include:

  • passing of someone close to you;
  • domestic abuse;
  • financial troubles;
  • being fired or laid off;
  • break-up or divorce;
  • sudden windfall (such winning a lottery);
  • surprise party;
  • unexpected good news (e.g. your child’s wedding announcement);
  • physical stress (e.g. an asthma attack, a car accident, or a major surgery).

Broken heart syndrome is actually less dangerous than heart attack. In heart attack, a blockage of a coronary artery is usually present. In broken heart syndrome, coronary arteries are intact, but the blood flow in them might be decreased.

Certain factors increase your risk of broken heart syndrome. They include:

  • gender – women are much more likely to develop the condition than men;
  • age – the risk of broken heart syndrome increases after age 50;
  • neurological problems, such as head trauma or epilepsy;
  • mental disorders, such as depression and anxiety.

There is no proven method to prevent broken heart syndrome. However, reducing or eliminating stress factors from your environment might help.

Source: Mayo Clinic

This post is solely for informational purposes. It is not intended to provide medical advice. WIKR doesn’t take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this post. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader should consult with their physician or other health care provider.