What is broken heart syndrome?

We’ve all had a broken heart at one time or another. Whether it was the death of a loved one or breaking up with our first love, the pain we felt was overwhelming. The term “broken heart” is used regularly, but did you know that broken heart syndrome is real?

First medically described in 1991 by Japanese doctors the original name of the condition was takotsubo cardiomyopathy. Named after a pot the Japanese use to catch octopus, the heart takes on a similar shape when a person experiences stress cardiomyopathy or broken heart syndrome. The syndrome is induced when a person experiences stress. The heart temporarily enlarges when an increase in adrenaline and other hormones are present. Most patients experience symptoms similar to a heart attack including chest pain. 

Researchers are still unsure how the sudden abundance of hormones affects the heart. Unlike a heart attack the arteries are not blocked. However, the blood flow in the arteries may reduce, your heartbeat can change and fluid may back up into your lungs. The possibilities make this syndrome dangerous. The good news is most people do recover quickly and don’t have long-lasting side effects.

Unfortunately, there is no known way to prevent broken heart syndrome, but controlling stress and anxiety can help. Learn calming techniques here.