It might sound like a story line from a movie – a person suffering from a ‘broken heart.’
While it’s not usually a fatal event, according to Steven Nissen, M.D., chairman of Cardiovascular Medicine at Cleveland Clinic, there is such a thing as ‘Broken Heart Syndrome.’
Broken Heart Syndrome is real.
Dr. Nissen said ‘Broken Heart Syndrome’ is a type of cardiomyopathy and most often occurs after a person has suffered an extreme emotional experience.
“When that happens, for reasons we don’t fully understand, there’s a surge of adrenaline in the body, and the result simulates a heart attack,” said Dr. Nissen.
Cardiomyopathy vs. Heart Attack
According to Dr. Nissen, during an episode of cardiomyopathy, the heart muscle actually stops contracting and as a result will look like a heart attack even when an electrocardiogram, or EKG, is performed.
However, unlike a heart attack, there is no blockage present, just a contraction problem.
Dr. Nissen said folks rarely die from ‘Broken Heart Syndrome,’ but they can become very sick.
The good news is that people who experience this type of event can expect their heart muscle to return to normal after a few weeks.
Dr. Nissen also said that for reasons not fully known, the condition effects more women than men.
“More people that have this are women than men, probably at least four or five to one,” said Dr. Nissen.
“So it does occur more commonly in women, perhaps it’s because women experience emotions more strongly than men typically in our society.”
Dr. Nissen stressed it’s very important to never assume that any chest pain or pressure is not a heart attack and that folks experiencing any type of heart-related symptoms should always call 9-1-1 first.
YOU’VE PROBABLY HEARD IT IN THE MOVIES – A PERSON BECOMING SO SAD THAT THEY DIE OF A ‘BROKEN HEART.’
AND WHILE IT’S NOT USUALLY A FATAL EVENT, THERE IS SUCH A THING AS ‘BROKEN HEART SYNDROME.’
DOCTOR STEVEN NISSEN, A CARDIOLOGIST AT CLEVELAND CLINIC, SAYS ‘BROKEN HEART SYNDROME’ IS A TYPE OF CARDIOMYOPATHY (CAR-DEE-OH-MY-OP-ATHY), AND ITS SYMPTOMS MIMIC THOSE OF A HEART ATTACK.
HE SAYS BROKEN HEART SYNDROME MOST OFTEN OCCURS AFTER A PERSON HAS SUFFERED AN EXTREME EMOTIONAL EXPERIENCE.
CG: Dr. Steven Nissen/Cleveland Clinic
“When that happens, for reasons we don’t fully understand, there’s a surge of adrenaline in the body, and the result simulates a heart attack.” :10
VO (B-roll: heart monitors, EKG, echo, people in the emergency department)
DOCTOR NISSEN SAYS THAT DURING AN EPISODE OF BROKEN HEART SYNDROME, THE HEART MUSCLE ACTUALLY STOPS CONTRACTING AND AS A RESULT WILL LOOK LIKE A HEART ATTACK EVEN WHEN AN E-K-G IS PERFORMED.
HOWEVER, UNLIKE A HEART ATTACK, THERE IS NO BLOCKAGE PRESENT, JUST A CONTRACTION PROBLEM.
DOCTOR NISSEN SAYS FOLKS RARELY DIE FROM BROKEN HEART SYNDROME, BUT THEY CAN BECOME VERY SICK.
THE GOOD NEWS IS THAT THOSE WHO EXPERIENCE THIS TYPE OF EVENT CAN EXPECT THEIR HEART MUSCLE TO RETURN TO NORMAL AFTER A FEW WEEKS.
DOCTOR NISSEN ALSO SAYS THAT FOR REASONS UNKNOWN, THE CONDITION AFFECTS MORE WOMEN THAN MEN.
CG: Dr. Steven Nissen/Cleveland Clinic
“More people that have this are women than men, probably at least four or five to one.”
So it does occur more commonly in women, perhaps it’s because women experience emotions more strongly than men typically in our society” :13
IT’S IMPORTANT TO NEVER ASSUME THAT ANY CHEST PAIN OR PRESSURE IS NOT A HEART ATTACK AND YOU SHOULD ALWAYS CALL 9-1-1 FIRST WHEN EXPERIENCING ANY TYPE OF HEART-RELATED SYMPTOM.
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MARIA DORFNER is the founder of MEDCrunch, a division of Healthy Within Network. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org