“Broken Heart Syndrome” can be dangerous, sometimes deadly

All of us who knew the heartache of Valentine’s Day and beyond know this: “broken heart syndrome” is real and should not be ignored. This can lead to severe short-term heart muscle failure or even in rare cases can be fatal, according to UW Medicine.

Symptoms of the syndrome, also known as stress-induced cardiomyopathy or tacosubo cardiomyopathy, may include chest pressure, palpitations and weakness similar to a heart attack, said cardiologist UW Medicine April Stampien-Otter. “But the examination shows that the arteries are normal, it’s not a heart attack, it’s such a cardiomyopathy takotsubo,” she said.

“Most [cases] associated with either personal emotional trauma or natural disasters, ”said Stephen-Otera. “It’s completely biological. I mean, it’s stress hormones. It’s an inflammation caused by these emotions in our brain. “

Strong emotions produce chemicals and hormones in the body that can cause a part of the heart to temporarily increase and be poorly pumped, while the rest of the heart functions normally or with even stronger contractions.

Stampien-Otter observes several cases each year that are serious enough to deserve treatment in the intensive care unit.

While women are more likely to face the disease after a stressful event, Stampien-Otter recently also treated several men.

Although the symptoms may be similar to the symptoms of a heart attack, here are some key differences:

  • ECG (a test that records the electrical activity of the heart) the results do not look the same as the ECG results for a person who has had a heart attack.
  • Blood tests show no signs of heart failure.
  • Tests show no signs of coronary artery occlusion.
  • Tests show bloating and unusual movement of the lower left ventricle (left ventricle).
  • Recovery time is fast, usually in a few days or weeks (compared to a recovery time of a month or more in a heart attack).

With maintenance therapy, most patients can fully recover from symptoms within a few weeks, but in rare cases, ignoring symptoms can lead to fatal heart muscle failure, she said.

“It is very exciting to care for these people when they realize that this emotional event has caused their heart (problem),” Stampien-Otera said. “It’s just a real moment for people when they recognize this connection of heart and mind and what it can really do with us.”

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