What Is Broken Heart Syndrome?

Broken heart syndrome is a temporary health problem that was only recently described in medical literature. It is nearly always brought on by a stressful event, and sufferers may think they are suffering a heart attack. Luckily it is a treatable condition.

  1. Symptoms

    • Sufferers of broken heart syndrome often feel like they are having a heart attack--they may experience chest pain or shortness of breath. However, any long-lasting or persistent chest pain may signal an actual heart attack, so sufferers should always take these symptoms seriously and see a doctor.

    Causes

    • Stressful events, such as the death of a loved one, cause broken heart syndrome. It is believed that hormones related to stress or extreme emotion damage the heart, although doctors aren't entirely sure how this happens.

    Risks

    • Gender and age are big risk factors for broken heart syndrome. Studies have shown that as many as 90 percent of all broken heart syndrome victims are women, usually over 50 years of age.

    Complications and Treatment

    • Only in rare cases is broken heart syndrome fatal. Usually, sufferers can recover in about a week. There is no defined treatment regimen for broken heart syndrome. Typically, it is treated like a heart attack until there is a clear diagnosis. Normally, broken heart syndrome victims are kept in the hospital for recovery, and may be given blood pressure medication.

    Differences From a Heart Attack

    • Broken heart syndrome differs from an actual heart attack. During the latter, a patient's arteries are blocked, either by a blood clot or fatty build up on artery walls. Those who suffer from broken heart syndrome do not have blocked arteries, but may experience a reduced flow of blood to the heart.

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References

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