Broken Heart Syndrome: Not Romantic at All

by Jodee on February 15, 2010

Many of us have had our hearts broken when love doesn’t work out the way we had hoped. Broken Heart Syndrome, also known as “stress cardiomyopathy,” is a very real medical condition that can resemble a heart attack.

Broken Heart Syndrome Defined

Broken Heart Syndrome is a condition that is caused by a surge of adrenalin and other hormones in the body. It occurs when a person is under extreme stress, which causes the heart muscle to weaken. The left ventricle, which is the pumping chamber of the heart, stops contracting in a normal manner. Doctors treating patients who have been diagnosed with a heart attack are treating people with Broken Heart Syndrome in about 2 percent of cases.

The classic case of Broken Heart Syndrome is where a woman gets the news that her husband has just passed away and immediately collapses. Even a happy surprise can trigger the onset of Broken Heart Syndrome, such as when friends and family gather to honor someone special. Severe migraine headaches and stage fright have also triggered Broken Heart Syndrome.
heart problems picture
Symptoms of Broken Heart Syndrome

Chest pains and shortness of breath are signs of Broken Heart Syndrome, but medical tests are necessary to rule out the possibility that the patient isn’t having a heart attack. A person who is experiencing these symptoms after receiving bad news or another stressful event needs to be seen by a doctor immediately.

Treating Broken Heart Syndrome

Once Broken Heart Syndrome has been diagnosed, the patient is given blood pressure medication to reduce the strain in the heart. Most patients stay in the hospital for approximately seven days while they recover, which is probably less time than it takes to move on after a breakup.

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