Broken Heart Syndrome – Is It Real?

broken heart syndrome

‘’Mama Can you die from a broken heart?’’ A heart touching song with so many sentiments of pain and sorrow by Maddie and Tae is the base of today’s article. Have you ever thought what is broken heart syndrome and can people actually die from it?

Let’s start discussing it but there is no such need of being broken-hearted here.

What is a broken heart?

Have you ever heard from somewhere or saw in the news or a movie: Paramours married for decades die within a few days of each other. Do you know it is called ‘’Broken heart syndrome’’, and it’s real? Being a part of a loved one or losing them is painful and emotionally devastating. It’s not common but sometimes an overwhelming sad situation affects physical health and heart too.

Broken Heart Syndrome:

It is a temporary condition of the heart that may appear because of any stressful situation such as the death of a loved one, physical separation, winning a lottery, losing a competition, divorce, breakup, betrayal, or romantic rejection. Broken heart syndrome is also called Takotsubo (Octopus trap), apical ballooning syndrome, and stress-induced cardiomyopathy by doctors. It can strike anyone whether you are healthy or suffering from heart problems.

A surgery or serious physical illness can also trigger this condition. It is also examined that during broken heart syndrome changes appear in hormonal secretions and rhythm of heartbeat dramatically, which is similar to a heart attack but no blocked heart arteries conditions appear.

Is Broken Heart Syndrome a life threat?

Yes! You can die from a broken heart, it’s a scientific fact.

Most people get recover from broken heart syndrome within a few days or weeks. It makes no permanent damage to the heart muscle. The risk of having a recurrence is also very low. People who experience this condition need immediate medical attention but recovery is often quick.

But according to the latest research, the problem may occur in a few situations. In a case when a person with a broken heart develops a complication in which the heart fails to pump enough blood to the body. This condition is medically termed as ‘’Cardiogenic shock’’.

The risk of death in patients having this condition with the above-mentioned condition remains high, not only for the time being hospitalized but after years also.

Atrial Fibrillation:

People who suffer from broken heart syndrome and cardiogenic shock also get aware of another term Atrial Fibrillation.  It is a condition of an irregular heartbeat that eventually triggers by physical stressors.

Who is more affected by this condition?

Most women experience broken heart syndrome more than men. Women are seven times more likely than men to suffer from broken heart syndrome and older women are at greater risk. Broken heart syndrome is the response of a sudden shocking or emotional moment. This shock can be positive as well as negative too. Researchers are not sure what causes this gender disparity but they have some ideas related to this research. One theory suggests that the difference in the number of nerves in women and men causes this situation. According to the second theory hormonal trigger plays a vital role in this gender-based discrimination of broken heart syndrome.

What happens during Broken Heart syndrome?

The causes or reasons for broken heart syndrome are not fully known. During some shocking or stressful events reaction of a person causes the release of catecholamine (stress hormone) that reduces the productiveness of heart-pumping function temporarily. This causes the condition of broken heart syndrome.

Broken heart syndrome mimics the condition of cardiac arrest but actually in broken heart conditions a part of the human heart temporarily gets enlarged and cannot pump properly, while the remaining parts of the heart function properly even with more forceful contractions.

Understand the difference between Broken Heart syndrome & Heart Attack:

Mostly it is difficult to distinguish between broken heart syndrome and heart attack but some signs and symptoms of broken heart syndrome are different from a heart attack.

  • Blood test for broken heart syndrome shows no damage to the heart.
  • No blockage in coronary arteries appears in a blood test.
  • Ballooning and abnormal movement of the left ventricle (lower left heart chamber) appear in a test.
  • The results of the EKG-test for heart attack and broken heart syndrome never appear the same.
  • The recovery time of broken heart syndrome is quick as compared to the recovery time for a heart attack.

Signs and symptoms of Broken heart syndrome:

Mostly its symptoms mimic signs of a heart attack. The symptoms of broken heart syndrome may appear within minutes or sometimes they take hours after a stressful situation. The symptoms of broken heart syndrome include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Fainting
  • Heart failure
  • Angina (sudden and extremely severe chest pain)
  • Low blood pressure
  • Arrhythmia/Atrial fibrillation
  • Cardiogenic shock

Diagnostic tests:

The following tests are included in the diagnosis of broken heart syndrome.

  • Physical examination with a review of the past medical history of the patient.
  • The heart’s electrical activity measurement test EKG (electrocardiogram).
  • Echocardiography (moving images of pumping actions of heart with the help of sound waves).
  • Chest X-ray to examine the structure of the heart, blood vessels, and lungs.
  • Coronary angiography to get the pictures of the inside of heart arteries using dye and an X-ray type.
  • Ventriculogram is a test in which a dye is used to inject inside the left ventricle of the heart to take a specific kind of X-ray to analyze the size, shape, and pumping efficiency of the left ventricle.
  • Cardiac MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) that can produce both still and moving pictures of the heart.

Treatment for this condition:

Before a complete diagnosis of broken heart syndrome, the initial treatments for broken heart syndrome will be treated like those of heart attack. After proper diagnosis the following treatments should be started:

Medicinal treatments:

  • Beta-blockers to slow down the heart rate
  • ACE inhibitor to lower blood pressure
  • Anti-anxiety medicines that help to manage stress
  • Diuretics that decrease fluid buildup

In this condition, there is no need for stent placement, angioplasty, and surgery. It is because these treatments address the problems of blocked arteries.

Complications:

This condition can cause some serious heart problems such as:

  • Low blood pressure
  • Heart valves damage
  • Fluid backup in lungs
  • Abnormal heartbeat patterns
  • Insufficient pumping of blood supply from the heart to the body.

Prevention from this disease:

Frankly, there is no proper treatment for the prevention of broken heart syndrome. But being physically and psychologically strong can help to deal with sudden emotional shocks. This physical and mental strength helps to bear emotional jerks. It is good to learn relaxation techniques, problem-solving tips, and stress management. Anxiety medication and physical exercises are also helpful for stress management.

Sometimes people choose options to manage stress such as illicit drugs, drinking, smoking, and overeating but these are poor options. All these temporary solutions increase the risk factor in additional health issues.

Conclusion:

At the end of this article, we need to tell you two things; one bad and another good.

The bad thing is that broken heart syndrome may lead you towards sever, and short term failure of heart muscles.

And the good thing is that broken heart syndrome is treatable. Most people who experience this condition recover within the week and the risk of happening again is also rare. But in some situations, it can be fatal. So, love your heart and take care of it a lot. And never break hearts but try to mend the already broken. Don’t forget, The heart will break, but broken live on.

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