heart attack

Severe Loss Could Lead to a Real “Broken Heart”

Sudden or severe loss can lead stress that brings on a tightening of the heart muscle.

Although Valentine’s Day is a happy day for many people, it is sad and lonely for some who feel broken-hearted.

Well, as it turns out, a severe loss can cause a real "broken heart."

The medical term is takotsubo cardiomyopathy.

It happens when a sudden surge of stress hormones attack the heart and cause its muscle to fail.

Dr. Elaine Kamil suffered from the condition a few years ago after a tragic loss

"We lost our 31-year-old son at the time, Adam," she said. "It was a horrible experience."

The emotional toll eventually took a physical toll, when Kamil awoke in the middle of the night with chest pain.

"So I thought this couldn't be a heart attack, but then it was really bad pain and it didn't get better, so I woke up my husband and made him take me to the emergency department," she said.

Dr. Puja Mehta of the Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center in the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute explained what was happening.

"The heart basically stops working properly, so it balloons out and there’s dysfunction of the actual muscle and people go into heart failure," she said.

The condition affects post-menopausal women most often, but it can affect anyone.

The good news is that when Broken Heart Syndrome is treated quickly it may actually be reversed. The longer the patient waits, the more likely it is that the damage can be permanent.

So, if you get chest pain or any other unusual symptoms after stress don’t ignore them. In many cases doctors can fix a broken heart if you get to them soon enough.

Contact Us