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Is it possible to die from a broken heart? This question has been around since the first people loved, and lost.
And no, they’re not being over-sensitive or dramatic. It’s widely known that our bodies have a physical response to emotion – a raging pulse with anger, shortness of breath with fear… It’s therefore understandable that an emotion as powerful as love would call forth a similarly powerful physical response.
Most of us have been there. When it’s good it’s all sweaty palms, pounding heart, and butterflies in the stomach. And when it’s bad, well, there are feelings too and that’s where Broken Heart Syndrome comes in.
We’ve heard stories of life partners passing away within short periods of one another, seemingly unable to live on without the other. Or perhaps we’ve had a friend describing the feeling of her heart actually ripping apart after a particularly bad breakup. The emotional pain of depression manifests as physical pain, and it’s all too real but at the same time, dying from it is not the only option. Understanding Broken Heart Syndrome can help us overcome it and go on to love again.
What is Broken Heart Syndrome?
Broken Heart Syndrome is a real physical condition otherwise known as stress-induced cardiomyopathy, affecting even healthy people. The most basic explanation of this condition is that it’s an intense reaction to an emotionally stressful event. This can be a really bad breakup, or the death of a loved one.
But other stressful situations can also lead to this syndrome developing, like winning or losing a great deal of money, getting divorced, losing your job, or experiencing domestic abuse and other trauma. Some medications have been known to lead to the condition as well, like Duloxetine for depression, Epinephrine for severe allergic reactions, and Levoxyl for treating thyroid problems. Broken Heart Syndrome is often misdiagnosed as a heart attack because it looks and acts much the same.
However, the only difference is that with this syndrome there are no blocked arteries to explain the heart’s failure where heart attacks are caused by blockages of the heart’s arteries. This blockage is linked to lifestyle and genetics, whereas Broken Heart Syndrome can affect anyone whether they’re healthy or not. Intense distress directly affects the heart and makes it feel as if you’re having a heart attack when the sudden flood of stress hormones hit your system. What happens is that one area of the heart enlarges and stops pumping blood, causing the rest of the heart to over-work.
Although Broken Heart Syndrome can affect anyone, it is most commonly diagnosed in middle-aged women and interestingly enough, women who have no history of heart problems. Recent studies have also shown that people with a history of anxiety, depression, or epilepsy have a higher risk of developing Broken Heart Syndrome. The good news is that this condition is temporary and entirely treatable, and that’s why it’s so important to be aware of the signs to look out for before serious damage to the heart muscle can occur.
Since it closely mimics a heart attack, shortness of breath, rapid or irregular heartbeat, and acute chest pain are the three main red flags signaling Broken Heart Syndrome. You should never put off seeking medical attention if you experience these symptoms because it could be a heart attack. And if it isn’t, the symptoms of Broken Heart Syndrome can still be life-threatening.
Treatment for Broken Heart Syndrome
Your doctor will seek to first and foremost relieve the strain on your heart to prevent heart failure and further damage to the heart muscle. This is done through medication that will manage your blood pressure so that your heart doesn’t have to work so hard. Most people will remain under observation until the risk of heart failure has passed, and then required to take heart medications like beta blockers to continue to reduce the workload on their heart.
Full recovery often happens after about a month, and medications can usually be stopped after three to six months or according to your doctor. However, it should be said that although physical treatment is essential for recovery from Broken Heart Syndrome, it’s important to remember that since the condition is triggered by stress, focusing on good mental and emotional health is just as vital.
Finding healthy ways in which to manage stress is the first step to avoiding any recurrence of Broken Heart Syndrome. Seeking help through counseling is the best way to begin healing psychologically and emotionally. Talking to a psychologist can greatly help you deal with the emotional pain of grief, anxiety, and other stressors that causes Broken Heart Syndrome.
By giving equal focus to your physical and emotional health, you equip yourself with positive ways to deal with the ups and downs of daily life and greatly reduce the risk of dying of a broken heart. If you have experienced extreme stress and need help with depression, anxiety, or trauma treatment, feel free to contact ZwavelStream Clinic for more information.