HEALTHBEAT 4: Suffering from a broken heart - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

HEALTHBEAT 4: Suffering from a broken heart


February is known as the month of love, but when love is lost, it can hurt. Doctors said it's possible for a person to experience the physical pain of a broken heart. It's known as broken heart syndrome.

"A form of what we call a cardiomyopathy or a situation when the heart function becomes weakened or injured," said Dr. Jeffrey Sykes.

Jeffrey Sykes is a cardiologist at UnityPoint Health - St. Lukes and he said broken heart syndrome tends to happen to people who are under some type of emotional stress.

"A significant life event occurs, a loved one dies, a financial catastrophe,"

Dr. Sykes said those who are suffering from broken heart syndrome may experience chest pains and discomfort, similar to a heart attack. However, there's no evidence of blocked heart arteries with broken heart syndrome.

"Usually what happens is the whole tip of the heart stops working," said Dr. Sykes. "If you imagine this [the heart] upside down, this is what we call an echocardiogram of a patient who the night before had this happen. What you can see is the base part of the heart here is coming in and squeezing, but the whole base of the heart is not moving. Its just sitting there. "

Broken heart syndrome is treatable and reversible.

"It tends to resolve within a few days and the treatment is more supportive than anything," said Dr. Sykes. "Probably just a very small fraction of people actually die from this."

Doctors treat more women than men for it, and they're usually older and post menopausal.

"People talk about mind over body and all of that stuff," said Dr. Sykes. "This is a mind body connection. There's something going on emotionally that's directly related to injuring your heart."

Cardiologists said if you're experiencing chest paint, the most important thing to do is get medical help right away.

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