“You can die of a broken heart — its scientific fact — and my heart has been breaking since that very first day we met. I can feel it now, aching deep behind my rib cage the way it does every time we’re together, beating a desperate rhythm: Love me. Love me. Love me.”
— Abby McDonald, Getting over Garrett Delaney
In the medical community, it has many names: stress-induced cardiomyopathy, takotsubo cardiomyopathy, and apical ballooning syndrome. No matter what you call it, whether you choose to believe it or not, you can suffer from a broken heart. Read below for more information and tips on coping with Broken Heart Syndrome from OCH Health System’s Shanti Yerra, MD.
What is Broken Heart Syndrome? Many theories exist. The most accepted theory is an outpouring of sympathetic nerves system (associated with Fight or Flight) leads to part of the heart muscle to fail, causing a failure to pump.
Is it a Heart Attack? With a heart attack, there is an actual blockage of blood flow to the heart. With Broken Heart Syndrome, the coronary arteries are clean and it is treatable. Doctors can do different tests to help determine whether a person is having a heart attack or suffering from Broken Heart Syndrome.
Who is affected by Broken Heart Syndrome? Broken Heart Syndrome is more common in women, but it can effect anyone. Typically it is associated with major life changing events that may cause sudden and severe physical and/or emotional stress, such as:
- Divorce or a romantic rejection
- Unexpected loss or death of a loved one
- Loss of a person’s job
Other factors may also have an affect on one suffering from Broken Heart Syndrome:
- Certain prescription medications
- People who suffer from depression, physical and mental problems
- Neurological diseases, brain hemorrhages, seizures, etc.
How dangerous is it? Broken Heart Syndrome can be viewed as a mild to life threatening condition, which may require hospitalization. The good news is, this is a treatable and temporary condition.
How do you prevent Broken Heart Syndrome? Broken Heart Syndrome is a condition that is preventable, and here is how:
- Practice a heart healthy lifestyle
- Don’t smoke.
- Exercise regularly
- Maintain an optimal weight
- Maintain a healthy blood pressure
- Seek help
- 1 in every 10 individuals suffers from depression. Seek help as early as you can. If you need an evaluation, contact your primary care physician.
- Stress management
- Learn how to manage your stress and other coping skills. To find out how, talk to your primary care physician.
Shanti Yerra, MD, is a board certified Internal Medicine provider with the Ozark Community Hospital Health System’s Medical Offices Clinic in Springfield, Missouri. Dr. Yerra has received very high healthcare quality markers in diabetes management, preventative care, coronary artery disease and congestive heart failure. Dr. Yerra is NCQA (National Committee for Quality Assurance) certified. She passed her boards in the top 10 percentile and is currently participating in the MOC (Maintenance of Certification) program. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Yerra, contact the OCH Medical Offices Clinic at 417-875-4682.