What is Broken Heart Syndrome?

What Is Broken Heart Syndrome? | Arkansas Heart Syndrome

Experiencing heartbreak can be devastating emotionally, but did you know that it can affect your physical health as well? Broken heart syndrome, also referred to as stress-induced cardiomyopathy or Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, is a phenomenon that mimics a heart attack in almost every way except that there are no blockages in the arteries.

The symptoms of broken heart syndrome are similar to those of a heart attack, including shortness of breath and chest pain. Broken Heart Syndrome is often triggered by stressful events or extreme emotions. Interventional cardiologist Dr. Gary Nash explains that the condition is most common in postmenopausal women, although he has seen it in a variety of demographics. There are other risk factors including a history of neurological conditions (such as epilepsy), or a history of psychiatric disorders (anxiety or depression).

It is believed that the release of stress hormones, including adrenaline, causes the heart to dilate and weaken. Broken hearts are treatable, and the condition usually reverses itself within a few days. In rare cases, the syndrome can be fatal.

Broken heart syndrome is believed to be the reason couples who have been together for long periods of time often die within days of each other. If you are grieving the loss of a loved one or experiencing other extreme emotions and start to experience heart attack symptoms such as sudden onset chest discomfort or shortness of breath, Dr. Gary Nash recommends you immediately call 911.

To learn more about heart-related health issues and get expert insights for maintaining your health, check these other heart health tips.