Broken heart syndrome, also known as stress induced cardiomyopathy or takotsubo cardiomyopathy, is a temporary condition which is often brought on by extreme stress, such as the death of a loved one, a frightening medical diagnosis. People with broken heart syndrome may have sudden chest pain or think they are having a heart attack.
The condition is temporary and reversible. Takotsubo cardiomyopathy was first reported in Japan in 1990. The word ‘Takotsubo’ means ‘octopus pot’ in Japanese, as the left ventricle of the heart changes into similar shape as the pot- developing a narrow neck and a round bottom. Women are more likely to experience broken heart syndrome.
The cause of broken heart syndrome is not fully known. In most cases, symptoms are triggered by extreme emotional or physical stress, such as intense grief, anger, or surprise. Studies revealed surging stress hormone ( such as adrenaline) stun the heart, triggering changes in heart muscles or blood vessels that prevent the left ventricle from contracting effectively.
Broken heart symptoms can mimic a heart attack. The most common signs and symptoms of broken heart syndrome are chest pain and shortness of breath after severe stress (emotional and physical). In some cases, people may also experience palpitations, nausea and vomiting.
Because the syndrome involves severe heart muscle weakness, some people may experience fainting, irregular heartbeats and low blood pressure.
Any long lasting or persistent chest pain could be sign of a heart attack. So, it is important to seek help right away.
How to protect yourself from broken heart syndrome?
1. Realize that you are not alone who is feeling lonely. Many are quietly suffering just like you.
2. Express your emotions. Studies show expressing emotions greatly minimizes the body’s stress response.
3. Do not ignore chronic aches or pains.
4. Make sure you eat well. Healthy foods keep you nourished during difficult times.
5. Do not put time limit on your grief. Your healing time is purely yours.
6. If you are fragile, limit your exposure to emotionally driven events.
7. Do not forget the spiritual side. Meditation, prayer helps to ease a broken heart.
8. It might be helpful to be surrounded by supportive friends and relatives after a stressful events.
9. Learn to manage stress.