Broken Heart syndrome – its real!

Broken Heart syndrome – its real!

“Oh God! You really gave me a heart attack!” Heard this before? Well, there is more truth in this than you could imagine. Doctors from John Hopkins University have confirmed that the news of the sudden death of a loved one or similar shocking news can really cause a broken heart. ‘Broken Heart Syndrome’ as they call it – is real, reversible and yet potentially deadly. Its a condition in which sudden severe emotional stress can cause extreme heart muscle weakness and heart attack like symptoms like chest pain and shortness of breath.

What causes it?

When we hear a shocking news, our endocrine system kicks in and a lot of adrenaline and other proteins are produced. These help us to cope better with the stressful condition. But sometimes adrenaline surge can temporarily damage the hearts of some people. The exact reason for it is not yet known. It is believed to be caused by the decrease in blood supply to the heart due to narrowing of blood vessels. In the weakened state of the heart muscle, a temporary bulging of the apex of the heart occurs and hence its also called stress cardiomyopathy (disease of the cardiac muscle caused by stress).

Is it dangerous?

Broken heart syndrome can be life threatening in certain cases. It differs from the ‘classic heart attack’ in that most of the damage that occurs is reversible. A typical heart attack is caused by blockage in the blood vessels supplying the heart whereas broken heart syndrome is due to temporary narrowing of the blood vessels. With proper and timely medical medical care, most people recover within a few days. Rarely, it can even be fatal.

I have to face a lot of stress everyday. Am I at risk?

Broken heart syndrome is not caused by everyday stresses. It occurs due to a sudden severe emotional trauma. Moreover, most of the people who had this had no prior history of heart disease. It’s interesting to note that women are at greater risk for this than men, the exact cause for which is unknown.

Can people have Broken Heart Syndrome a second time?

Though it’s rare, there is a 10% chance for recurrence. But most people after suffering from an episode of broken heart syndrome went on to lead a healthy and happy life.