Broken Heart Syndrome Treatment

Broken heart syndrome is a condition that develops out of a stressful situation. Often referred to as stress cardiomyopathy, times of great turmoil can actually cause your body to produce an overabundance of stress hormones. This change in the chemical makeup of your system can prompt an enlargement of your heart, which triggers the chest pain and shortness of breath associated with this condition. The death of a loved one is by far the most predominant cause of broken heart syndrome, but you may develop this disorder out of any extremely stressful circumstances. Though the condition can be quite disconcerting, there is treatment to counteract complications of the syndrome.

  1. No Treatment

    • Since broken heart syndrome is considered temporary, you may not require treatment for this condition, especially when your heartbeat remains normal and fluid hasn't built up within your lungs. However, your doctor may want to monitor your condition, so he may ask that you stay overnight in a hospital to ensure that you don't suffer a myocardial infarction.

    ACE Inhibitors

    • Sometimes, broken heart syndrome is temporarily treated with an angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor. More commonly known as ACE inhibitors, this type of medication causes the blood vessels to dilate, reducing the pressure being placed on the heart due to the influx of epinephrine and norepinephrine (two of the "stress" hormones linked to the condition). Enalapril is probably one of the more popular ACE inhibitors, but your doctor may prescribe benazepril, ramipril, captopril or perindopril, to name a few.

    Beta Blockers

    • Another potential treatment for broken heart syndrome is beta blockers. This is largely due to the fact that your body is experiencing an increase in epinephrine and beta blockers actually block the way in which your body responds to this hormone. As the medication makes its way into your bloodstream, your blood pressure decreases, which reduces the stress being placed on your heart. There are numerous beta blockers available today, so you may end up taking acebutolol, esmolol, atenolol or carvedilol in the treatment of this condition.

    Diuretics

    • If your doctor finds that broken heart syndrome is causing fluid to build up within your lungs, a potential complication and symptom of the condition, she may prescribe a diuretic to rid your body of this excess fluid. Also known as the medical condition pulmonary edema, this accumulation of fluid can cause the right ventricle of your heart to fail, which may produce ventricular fibrillation or an arrhythmia.

    Automatic External Defibrillator

    • In much more severe cases of broken heart syndrome, especially when the condition leads to a ventricular fibrillation, you may actually need an automatic external defibrillator. With this device, an electrical impulse essentially shocks your heart so that it may return to its normal heart rhythm.

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