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Broken Heart Syndrome

Most, if not all, of us knows what it feels like to have our hearts broken. But did you know there is actually a cardiac condition called "broken heart syndrome"? It's a temporary condition, often caused by an extreme emotional or highly stressful event. Fortunately, broken heart syndrome, also known as takotsubo cardiomyopathy, usually self corrects in a few days or weeks.

Possible causes

Although the cause is unclear, it may be related to surges of hormones like adrenaline, that temporarily damage the heart. Why it happens to some people but not everyone isn't known. There could be differences in the heart structure of those who experience this phenomenon. Following is a list of some possible reasons for this syndrome:

  • death of someone close
  • devastating medical diagnosis
  • domestic abuse
  • sudden and profound change in financial situation
  • emotional fight
  • unexpected surprise
  • public speaking
  • significant loss like a job or divorce
  • physical trauma

There may be some drugs that could cause it by causing a surge of stress hormones:

  • epinephrine
  • duloxetine
  • venlafaxine
  • levothyroxine
  • methamphetamine and cocaine

Is broken heart syndrome a heart attack?

There are similarities between heart attack and broken heart syndrome but they are not the same. Blocked arteries are often the cause of a heart attack. The blockage is often because of a blood clot that forms at a plaque site causing an interruption of blood flow.  Broken heart syndrome is not caused by a blockage. However, blood flow may be temporarily restricted during the event.

Risk factors

There are some risk factors associated with broken heart syndrome:

  • being female - it happens far more often to women than men
  • age - usually happens to people over 50
  • neurological condition - prior head trauma or seizure disorder can increase risk
  • psychiatric disorder - those with anxiety or depression are at higher risk

Broken heart syndrome usually does not recur, although it can. Drugs such as beta-blockers are used to mitigate the damage of stress hormones and are often prescribed for life after such an event.

Stress management is good for anyone trying to live a heart healthy lifestyle and preventing broken heart syndrome is another good reason for it.

My Story

Since June 2019, I decided to hold myself accountable for walking my talk. Several years ago, I was able to take off 135 pounds and essentially save my own life. I regained some of that weight in the last couple of years and I’m working my way back down. I’ve lost over 40 pounds since I began in June and have exercised nearly every day since August.

If you choose to join me on this journey, I hope I am able to impart some nutritional and lifestyle wisdom. Even though I may have gone off the rails temporarily I can still share some of my first hand experience as well as my acquired knowledge and training to help you make the right changes to live your best life.

Do You Want Help?

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As a health coach, I work with women who are facing serious health challenges like heart disease, metabolic syndrome and diabetes or who have been diagnosed as having a precursor to a serious health issue such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol or high blood sugar. I help them make food and lifestyle changes so they can get healthy, live longer and enjoy a fuller, happier, more energetic life. If you would like to have a free consultation about the health challenges you have and the improvements you would like to see in your health, click here to schedule a no strings attached call.

2 Comments

  1. Martha on February 5, 2020 at 6:30 am

    WOW I never knew that! A few years back my then 20 year old granddaughter ended up in the ER with extreme rapid heart rate and was put on beta blockers and while doing a scan found a spot on her lung. After an MRI they realized the spot was actually a tumor near her heart and lungs and had infiltrated into her spinal cord. She was so stressed for the next 6 months of tests and finally surgery
    After 2 back to back 12 hour surgeries, the giant tumor was removed and her heart went back to normal. I wonder if she had this....

    • Karen on February 5, 2020 at 12:07 pm

      She might have Martha. I believe that one of the frustrations of this issue is that it doesn't always leave evidence. Once the event passes, very often the heart can return to normal I think. I hope all is well with your granddaughter.

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