Bad break-ups, divorce, and the loss of a loved one. They can be incredibly emotional experiences in a person's life. But, it can also take a physical toll.
Some doctors call it "broken heart syndrome." "It's a temporary heart condition provoked by major stressful situations, such as the death of a loved one," said Dr. Ramin Artang, Mercy Cardiology. "The heart function suddenly drops from normal to severely abnormal within minutes to hours after such event. And the person feels either severe shortness of breath, or severe chest pain or both at the same time."
Doctors admit they don't understand the condition very well, right now. "As you can imagine many people go through life with several stressful situations but only a very few number shows up to the hospital with this particular condition," said Artang, "We think it is because of serge of many stress hormones all at the same time that basically numbs the heart muscle temporarily. In the early phase the condition can be dangerous and can cause severe heart failure symptoms as well as cardiac arrhythmias so we often have our patients at intensive care unit until they over the worse part within first 24-48 hours."
Several stressors can cause "broken heart syndrome." "Loss of a loved one, divorce, job loss, natural disasters, car accident and acute major illness," said Artang. "Although I have seen this condition happening to both men and women, majority of the patients are women above age of 50."
Prevention is difficult as doctors continue to research this condition. "It is temporary and heart function begins to normalize with 1-2 weeks," Artang said. "These subjects will recover completely within days with no left over symptoms or signs of it ever happened which makes it a peculiar disease."
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