This syndrome really exists and it is commonly triggered by a traumatic or devastating event, and it is also recognized under the name of stress-induced cardiomyopathy or Takotsubo cardiomyopathy. This is a disorder when the heart becomes very weak and the body shows symptoms that are very similar to those of a heart attack like a sudden chest pain.
Due to great stress broken heart syndrome occurs, but it is a temporary heart condition. It is commonly caused by after severe emotional stress like a death of a loved one. People with this syndrome believe that they experience heart attack due to the great weakness they feel in their heart.
People who are mostly affected by this condition are postmenopausal women and elderly men. Broken heart syndrome does not occur due to blockage of a cardiac artery, but it is a sudden weakness of the heart muscle resulting from a shock that had experienced from the stress hormones or from the surge of adrenaline.
Here it is how the broken heart syndrome was reflected in the case of Joanie Simpson:
This is a lady of 63 years old who lives in Texas, but after she had lost her pet she experienced great sadness and emotional stress. Due to the grieving of her Yorkshire terrier, she ended up in the ER. For her the death of her pet was terrible experience and because of that one day she woke up with chest and shoulder pains believing that she is having a heart attack.
Abjhijeet Dhoble, MD, a cardiologist at Memorial Hermann Heart & Vascular in Houston, was on duty that day, and after he has examined her he diagnosed that Joanie suffered from broken heart syndrome.
The case of Joanie is not the first published case of broken heart syndrome related to a stress of a pet’s death. According to Dr. Abjhijeet Dhoble, many pet owners feel great grief after losing their pet in fact the grief is as same as of a human death and because of that they suffer from this syndrome.
As per Abhishek Maiti who also treated Joanie: “The artery was limpid. It was a virgin, he said. Another artery was too. Other tests indicated that this was a case of Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, which is most common in postmenopausal women.”
It was revealed by many studies that pet owners with chronic diseases experience higher levels of stress and anxiety as they are greatly attached to their pets and as well as they carry the burden of disease.
Another study that was released in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2005 revealed that the flood of stress hormones can make the heart to produce spasms in healthy people.
Regarding this Joanie says that: “This explanation seemed very logical to me,” as she could go back home two days later, naturally with prescribed heart meds, but she feels fine.
Signs of Broken Heart Syndrome
These symptoms can appear just a few minutes after a stressful situation and look very similar to a heart attack:
Sudden and severe chest pain
Shortness of breath
Low blood pressure
Arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat)
The heart cannot pump enough blood, and the impact of stress hormones stuns the cells of the heart, causing them to function poorly. These effects commonly go away within a few days or in some cases after weeks, but they do not harm the heart.
Prevention of broken heart syndrome
You can protect your body from experiencing this heart condition if you learn how to manage stress, to learn to solve problems and to implement relaxation techniques like yoga and meditation that can be beneficial in both psychological and physical health. You can manage the stress if you introduce some physical exercise and natural anti-anxiety remedies in your lifestyle. You can try the consumption of linden, lavender scent or verbena-based herbal teas.
When experiencing stress you should not turn to the bad habits like smoking, alcohol, food binging and the use of illegal drugs. These methods will not offer the solution and cannot help with stress management. In fact they can only bring more health issues.