What is Broken Heart Syndrome?

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.