Can a broken heart make you physically sick? New research

Until recently, broken heart syndrome was considered a relatively rare disease, but a new study found that it affects more and more women in certain age groups. What are the symptoms and how is this syndrome detected?

This may seem like a made-up illness or a psychosomatic phenomenon, but broken heart syndrome is a real medical condition.

Now, a new study in the Journal of the American Heart Association finds that it occurs more frequently, especially among women between the ages of 50 and 74.

Broken heart syndrome, also known as takotsubo cardiomyopathy (from the Japanese, traps used to capture octopuses and similarly to the structural changes of the syndrome), is a medical phenomenon first defined in 1980 by American pathologists who found that in 11 out of 15 corpses that were autopsied, there were unique structural changes in the heart.

It is estimated that between 1% and 2% of patients admitted to the emergency room with symptoms identical to a heart attack are diagnosed with broken heart syndrome.

The illness is often preceded by extreme shock, stress, or loss, and symptoms include chest pains so severe they feel like a heart attack, fainting, and shortness of breath.

(Credit: Ingimage)

Lead researcher Dr. Susan Cheng of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center said the trigger could be even something minor, like a surprise party or something unexpected, from a car accident to a romantic breakup.

Research shows that although the disease is not common, it is also not as rare as previously thought.

The researchers found 135,463 cases in the United States between 2006 and 2017, and 88.3% of them involved women 50 years and older. In fact, the cases increased more rapidly (at least six times) in women in the age group 50 to 74 years.

The main symptoms of broken heart syndrome are sudden and severe chest pain, a manifestation of a burst of stress hormones that can be caused by an emotionally stressful event. Such factors are varied and can include the death of a loved one, initiating or closing a divorce, a separation, and sometimes even a very happy and surprising event.

Manifestations of the syndrome include chest pain and shortness of breath, heart rhythm disorders, and even an extreme condition called cardiogenic shock, in which heart function weakens until it stops meeting the body’s needs. Unlike a heart attack, in most cases the syndrome can be treated and the heart can be restored to full function within a few weeks, and those who have experienced the syndrome in the past are at low risk for it to return. occur. Recovery time is generally quick and varies from a few days to weeks.

Cheng said that men and women have different biological systems and therefore have differences in susceptibility to various diseases.

He added that “these differences even intensify over time, and in this study it seems to be applicable here as well.”

Increased awareness has a role to play in increasing case documentation, but Cheng said that yet unidentified environmental factors are likely another factor. Future research will attempt to determine who may be the most vulnerable.

“There is probably some basic genetic predisposition,” he concluded.

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