When we think of dying of a broken heart, a dramatic romance may come to mind. But, a real-life broken heart can actually lead to cardiac consequences. These serious conditions have been named broken heart syndrome, also known as stress-induced cardiomyopathy.
Women are 90% more likely than men to experience this unfortunate syndrome, this may have to do with changes that occur post-menopause. The syndrome can be caused by an emotionally stressful event, such as losing a loved one. The death of Debbie Reynolds just one day after her daughter Carrie Fisher passed away is a reminder of the crushing effect grief can have on the body.
Broken heart syndrome also took the life of the Knapkes and the Browns. Harold and Ruth Knapke died 11 hours apart on the same day after 65 years of marriage. Les and Helen Brown died 24 hours apart after 75 years of marriage. In both situations each couple had been together for so long that they could not endure life without the other, a true testament to the devotion and loyalty they had in their marriage. Broken heart syndrome can also impact those going through a divorce, breakup, or even physical separation.
In broken heart syndrome, a part of your heart is enlarged temporarily and doesn’t pump effectively, while the remaining part of your heart functions normally or with overcompensating contractions. The most common signs and symptoms of broken heart syndrome are angina (chest pain) and shortness of breath, just like a heart attack, which is why it can be misdiagnosed as a heart attack. In fact, tests show dramatic changes in rhythm and blood substances that are typical of a heart attack. But unlike a heart attack, there’s no evidence of blocked heart arteries in broken heart syndrome. You can even experience these things even if you have no history of heart disease.
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