Although it sounds like the title of a very sad country song, dying from a broken heart is possible… but not very likely. Broken Heart Syndrome, also known as Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy is a “temporary heart condition that develops in response to an intense emotional or physical experience.” The condition ultimately affects the shape of the main pumping chamber which then inhibits the heart from pumping blood effectively.
Broken heart syndrome can be a particularly scary condition because the symptoms are strikingly similar to those of a heart attack. The individual can experience shortness of breath and chest pain. One of the main differences between a heart attack and broken heart syndrome is, in broken heart syndrome, there are usually no blocked arteries or permanent damage. Because of this, those suffering from broken heart syndrome will usually make a quick and easy recovery.
What causes Broken Heart Syndrome?
Contrary to what the name implies, experiencing heartbreak because of an ended relationship may not be the sole reason for broken heart syndrome to occur. Interestingly, any extreme emotional or physical trauma can also elicit this unique response. The Cleveland Clinic was able to put together a list of both emotional and physical stressors that can trigger the condition:
Sudden Emotional Stressors
- A substantial loss (death, divorce, job, home, money, pet)
- Both extremely good and bad news
- Intense fear (public speaking, armed robbery, car accident)
- Extreme anger
Sudden Physical Stressors
- Grave physical pain
- Extreme physical exhaustion
- Health issues (asthma attack, difficulty breathing, seizure, stroke, low blood sugar, surgery, etc.)
Anyone who feels like they are experiencing broken heart syndrome will be monitored in the hospital until it can be confirmed that they are not actually experiencing a heart attack. After being correctly diagnosed, medication will be prescribed, such as “angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, angiotensin II receptor blockers, beta-blockers or diuretics.” The medications are meant to put less stress on the heart. Surgery is not required for the condition as there are no blocked arteries involved. Therefore, recovery does not last too long— usually about three months.
Even though it may sound a little dramatic to say you are in pain from a heartbreak, you could be experiencing broken heart syndrome! If you have gone through an intense emotional or physical experience and start to feel chest pain, head to the hospital and get it checked out. You never know how the heart wills.
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