How Anger Makes You Physically Sick

 
 

Keep it in? Let it out? Both can be hazardous.

Anger is one of the 7 deadly emotions of caregiving. Get mad when you must — but don’t make a habit of it.   It affects  your body and brain.

On the one hand, an angry outburst can be a stress release, better for you than keeping seething feelings bottled up inside.

But chronic anger can make you physically sick, researchers say.

Frequent angry episodes can raise your risk of heart attacks and strokes and weaken your immune system.

Anger inside your body: The heart rate increases, blood pressure rises, and blood flow to muscles is reduced; glucose levels and adrenaline rise to give the muscles a shot of energy for the “fight or flight” response.

But never expressing anger when that’s what you’re feeling can be downright deadly.

Swedish research shows that those who walked away from conflict without saying anything (though they had reason to be upset) had double the risk of a heart attack compared to men who challenged authority.

Unexpressed anger is also linked to a lowered immune system.

The common thread: hostility seething through the body, whether expressed often or withheld often.

Researchers in this article don’t advise how to manage anger healthfully. For caregivers, it helps to learn to deal with hotheads without blowing your own top and to learn ways to cope with the frustration that loved ones can trigger.

What helps you?

 

Exerpt reprinted with permission from caring.com

 Read the entire article here:  http://www.caring.com/blogs/fyi-daily/how-anger-makes-you-physically-sick

 

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Suggested tips on how to respond to anger situations

Step Back and Breathe

Count to ten before you say or do anything and be mindful of your breathing. If you still don’t feel calm, count to ten again…and breathe.

Ask yourself:

  • What am I angry about?
  • What is hurting me?
  • What is going on that is not ok for me?
  • Did this person intend to hurt me?

When possible, remove yourself from the source of the stress and anger

Go for a walk or exercise. Moderate physical activity can be a productive outlet for your emotions. Besides releasing pent-up energy, your general physical feeling will improve.

Avoid emotionally charged and strenuous workouts, they can feed into the anger.

Imagine a calm relaxing scene.

  • Remember a time when you felt at peace.
  • Close your eyes, and travel back there.
  • Allow yourself to be there for a while and feel yourself release.

Empathize with the other person.

  • Try to see the situation from his or her point of view.
  • Remember that there is always more than one way to see anything.

Write in a journal. Keep track of your anger:

  • What did “I” get angry about?
  • What did “I” do or say in response?
  • How did “I” feel, physically and emotionally?

By identifying your sources of anger, you can learn to anticipate and respond to anger situations.

Use “I” statements when talking about the problem or situation instead of criticizing or blaming the other person. “I” am upset that the kitchen didn’t get cleaned after dinner,” instead of “Why is the kitchen still a mess?”, or “You should have cleaned it!”

Stop Brooding or Stewing. “Mind talk” is a major anger signal and one of the most destructive things you can do to yourself.

  • Rage starts when you lose control of your own thoughts or feelings.
  • You can control what you say.
  • Talk to the person you have anger with.
  • Share your feelings with a close friend or family member.
  • Seek professional help

For immediate relief of stress and anger click here!

 

Read more:

 

GO RED! Why? by Maria Dorfner

GO RED!  Today is National Wear Red Day to raise awareness about heart disease in women. That’s a photo from last summer, but you get the idea with the red.  Please don’t make fun of my phone.  Or the shadow from the phone.  Pay attention.

Why Women Only?  What about Men and Heart Disease?

In 2004, the American Heart Association (AHA) faced a challenge. Cardiovascular disease claimed the lives of nearly 500,000 American women each year, yet women were not paying attention.  See  how important it is to pay attention.  Your heart health matters way more than having a fancy phone.  Many women even dismiss cardiovascular disease as an “older man’s disease.”

To dispel the myths and raise awareness of heart disease as the number one killer of women, the American Heart Association created Go Red For Women – a passionate, emotional, social initiative designed to empower women to take charge of their heart health.

What’s with the Red Dress?

Ah, the dress.  I’m not standing in that photo because that dress is now a shirt thanks to a tailor.  Short Story! hahaha.   Back to hearts. In 2003, the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), the American Heart Association and other organizations committed to women’s health joined together to raise awareness of women and heart disease.  Unity.  Great.  Back to the red dress.

The NHLBI introduced the red dress as a national symbol for women and heart disease awareness and the American Heart Association adopted this symbol to create synergy among all organizations committed to fighting this cause.  Ah, synergy. It doesn’t really explain why the red dress, but ok.  That’s the explanation on their website.

I would have gone with Red is the color of heart and passion. Women have heart and passion, so we put them in a red dress to raise their passion about it.  That’s just me.

Back to these organizations, who do an excellent  job, by the way.  By working together to advance this important cause, the American Heart Association, NHLBI, and other women’s health groups will have a greater impact than any one group could have alone.

Where Do I Get Screened for Heart Disease?

Below is a link to get screened for heart disease. Here’s the catch. The tests costs around $200. but  frequently insurance providers do not cover the cost unless you are showing symptoms.  I think it may be too late by then.

So, now it’s ONLY if you’re at high risk which means you’re in the middle of having a stroke and they say, “Yes! High risk!” and toss you in a machine to get tested for heart disease.

They’re going to have to improve coverage if they really want to be about PREVENTION. I imagine the prevention they’re talking about is preventing doctors ordering unnecessary tests.  If people were ethical to begin with we wouldn’t have these problems.

Thank you, Saint Ephrems and to my family for teaching me about that.  Here’s the link to find out where you can get a screening:  www.lifelinescreening.com.  Below are answers to some other questions.

Why Should I Help Raise Awareness?

More women die of cardiovascular disease than from the next four causes of death combined, including all forms of cancer. But 80 percent of cardiac events in women could be prevented if women made the right choices for their hearts involving diet, exercise and abstinence from smoking. Make it your mission to learn all you can about heart attacks and stroke — don’t become a statistic.

CALL 9-1-1

What Happens When You Have a Heart Attack?

A heart attack occurs when the blood flow to a part of the heart is blocked, usually by a blood clot. If this clot cuts off the blood flow completely, the part of the heart muscle supplied by that artery begins to die.

How Do I Know if I’m Having a Heart Attack:

  1. Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest. It lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.
  2. Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  3. Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
  4. Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
  5. As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain.

If you have any of these signs, don’t wait more than five minutes before calling for help. Call 9-1-1…Get to a hospital right away.

What is a Stroke?

Stroke is the No. 3 cause of death in America. It’s also a major cause of severe, long-term disability. Stroke and TIA (transient ischemic attack) happen when a blood vessel feeding the brain gets clogged or bursts. The signs of a TIA are like a stroke, but usually last only a few minutes. If you have any of these signs, don’t wait more than five minutes before calling for help.

Call 9-1-1 to get help fast if you have any of these, but remember that not all of these warning signs occur in every stroke.

How Do I Know if I’m Having a Stroke?

  1. Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  2. Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  3. Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  4. Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  5. Sudden severe headache with no known cause

Also, check the time so you’ll know when the first symptoms appeared. It’s very important to take immediate action. Research from the American Heart Association has shown that if given within three hours of the start of symptoms, a clot-busting drug can reduce long-term disability for the most common type of stroke.

WHERE DOES THE MONEY GO IF I DONATE?

Donations to Go Red For Women help support efforts to educate women and to fund breakthrough research by the American Heart Association that helps ensure women are represented in clinical studies.  Since 2004, through its fundraising efforts, Go Red For Women has contributed almost $44 million to women-focused research and has provided additional funds to life-saving educational programs and tools for physicians.

 
Here’s a cute necklace if you’d like to get something in memory of your donation.  Also, when your friends compliment you on the cute necklace –you can help raise awareness by telling them all about heart disease.

If you’re a guy reading this –it makes for a heartfelt Valentine’s gift for a woman you love:

LINK TO PURCHASE NECKLACE:  https://shop.heart.org/AHAECOMM/en/ecommTemplate.jsp?pid=ahacomm.cat.product&categoryId=cat1000013&parentId=shcat1050001&id=prod900000

There are other items like a business card holder with a heart on it or related fitness wear or gear.

National Wear Red Day 2011
National Wear Red Day 2011 (Photo credit: U.S. Embassy Montevideo)
 
Here’s One Woman’s Personal Story.  Link at end to share yours.
 
Don’t be afraid to call 911….and don’t drive yourself to the hospital!!!

March 2008 I turned sixty years old and I felt completely fine with no health problems at all. But then six months later, I had the shock of my life because I had a unexpected, sudden heart attack.  It happened at 11 pm and I was just walking around my house, getting ready to go upstair to go to bed and from out of the blue, it hit me.

Like an elephant had just sat on my chest right between my two breasts. Like my chest was caving in and my lungs could not fill up with air.  At first I did not consider that this might be a heart attack.  I don’t know why that was…. I guess because the idea of having a unexpected, sudden heart attack just seem too unreal to me.

Something you might see in the movies, but not in real life. Anyway, after resting on the sofa for ten or so minutes and the heavy pressure in my chest still there, my mind finally began to consider the idea that this could be a heart attack.

I remember slowly walking up the stairs and waking up my husband saying, “I think I might be having a heart attack”.  He jumps up out of bed and says, “What should we do, call 911?”

I foolishly say, “No, get dressed and drive me to the hospital”.  PLEASE anyone reading this DO NOT do what I did and do not drive yourself to the hospital.

I live only two miles from a hospital.  I thought I could get there faster than waiting for an ambulance to get to my house. I did not consider, however, that when I walked myself into the ER at 12 am midnight that there would be no one in sight to help me.  No nurse sitting at the front desk, no people in the waiting room, and no way to yell for help because I couldn’t get enough air in my lungs to scream…. and there was also a glass partition separating the waiting room from the empty nurse’s desk.

As unbelievable as this sounds, I had to just sit in a chair in the empty waiting room, while I was looking at the empty desk, waiting for the nurse to return. It also passed through my mind that I might die right here where I sat in the waiting room, just yards away from doctors who could be saving my life if they knew I was here in the hospital.

I was alone because my husband was parking the car and when he got into the ER and saw me sitting there, he started banging on the glass partition wall, yelling through the glass for someone to help. A nurse finally came into view, saw my husband, and I was rushed to a bed, given an EKG, and was told I was having a heart attack.

A doctor quickly took my bed and started rolling it, running down the hall.  I remember feeling the wind on my face and said, “you are going so fast.”  He said, “I just walk fast”.  But truth is, everything was happening so fast because too much time had been wasted already….. because I did not call 911.

The end of the story is- I was given an angiogram and two stents were placed in my heart, and one hour later, I was in the cardiac intensive care unit breathing normally without any chest pains.

And now I know why it is best to call 911.  It’s because you get immediate help as soon as the ambulance arrives at your home and you get VIP treatment the minute you arrive at the hospital without having to wait to be checked into the emergency room before you can see a doctor.

I feel very fortunate to be alive and very happy I did not die sitting in a chair in the ER waiting room.  Don’t make the same mistake I did… Call 911.

SHARE YOUR STORY AT:  www.goredforwomen.org

 

GO RED! (me & my sister)

Daily Aspirin: To Take or Not to Take, That is the Question by Maria Dorfner

aspirin2

 According to the Archives of Internal Medicine (www.archinternmed.com) a new study urges against routine use of aspirin to prevent cardiovascular problems in otherwise healthy adults.

Yet, in June, 2011, Dr. Keith Souter published a book called, “An Aspirin a Day: The Wonder Drug That Could Save Your Life.”
Dr. Souter referred to a December 2010 study, which proved that taking a small daily dose of aspirin cut overall cancer deaths by at least a fifth. In “An Aspirin A Day”, he examined the results of this and countless other studies which proved that aspirin is indeed a wonder drug which can protect against some of our worst known diseases, setting out how you too can benefit from taking even a small dose daily. He’s not the only one. You’ll hear other physicians touting the benefits of taking a baby aspirin a day.

So, which is it?  It’s confusing to people because they then say the benefits may outweigh the risks. That basically cancels out the urgency against it.

UrgentRx Aspirin to Go
Image via Wikipedia

Details of Latest Study:  In a six year span, researchers analyzed data from almost 102,000 adults with an average age of 57 in nine studies,who had been randomly assigned to take aspirin.  They took 100 milligrams or less, or a placebo daily. None of the people had cardiovascular problems when the studies started.

Results showed 2,169 cases of coronary heart disease and 40,712 incidents of bleeding.

In that time, deaths related to cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks and strokes, occurred at essentially the same rate for people who did and did not take aspirin.

Overall, aspirin-takers had a 10 percent lower chance of having a cardiovascular problem (primarily a heart attack or stroke), a number fueled mainly by a 20 percent lower risk for a fatal heart attack.

No differences were found between men and women; older people seemed to benefit more than younger ones.

However, those taking aspirin had a 70 percent higher risk for bleeding problems; the chance of more-serious bleeding was 30 percent greater, especially among younger people.

Bottom Line:    Basically, anyone considering changing or beginning treatment of any kind should consult with a physician.

Related links:

 www.ahrq.gov (search for “aspirin”) andwww.mayoclinic.com (search for “daily aspirin”).

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/daily-aspirin-therapy/HB00073

Broken Heart Syndrome Real


“Broken Heart Syndrome.  BHS.  Grief from the death of a loved one can trigger it, as well as other stressful events. Symptoms of BHS can mimic a heart attack.  Severe, but reversible.  Your heart may take up to two weeks to recover from BHS.  A reminder that your heart is precious and linked to your overall health and well-being.”  ~Maria Dorfner

BROKEN HEART” SYNDROME: REAL, POTENTIALLY DEADLY BUT RECOVERY QUICK

— Hopkins scientists discover that emotional shock can trigger sudden, reversible heart failure that is not a classic heart attack

Shocking news, such as learning of the unexpected death of a loved one, has been known to cause catastrophic events, such as a heart attack.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins have discovered that sudden emotional stress can also result in severe but reversible heart muscle weakness that mimics a classic heart attack.  Patients with this condition, called stress cardiomyopathy but known colloquially as “broken heart” syndrome, are often misdiagnosed with a massive heart attack when, indeed, they have suffered from a days-long surge in adrenalin (epinephrine) and other stress hormones that temporarily “stun” the heart.

“Our study should help physicians distinguish between stress cardiomyopathy and heart attacks,” says study lead author and cardiologist Ilan Wittstein, M.D., an assistant professor at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and its Heart Institute.  “And it should also reassure patients that they have not had permanent heart damage.”

In the Hopkins study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, the research team found that some people may respond to sudden, overwhelming emotional stress by releasing large amounts of catecholamines (notably adrenalin and noradrenalin, also called epinephrine and norepinephrine) into the blood stream, along with their breakdown products and small proteins produced by an excited nervous system.  These chemicals can be temporarily toxic to the heart, effectively stunning the muscle and producing symptoms similar to a typical heart attack, including chest pain, fluid in the lungs, shortness of breath and heart failure.

Upon closer examination, though, the researchers determined that cases of stress cardiomyopathy were clinically very different from a typical heart attack.

“After observing several cases of ‘broken heart’ syndrome at Hopkins hospitals – most of them in middle-aged or elderly women – we realized that these patients had clinical features quite different from typical cases of heart attack, and that something very different was happening,” says Wittstein.  “These cases were, initially, difficult to explain because most of the patients were previously healthy and had few risk factors for heart disease.”

For example, examination by angiogram showed no blockages in the arteries supplying the heart.  Blood tests also failed to reveal some typical signs of a heart attack, such as highly elevated levels of cardiac enzymes that are released into the blood stream from damaged heart muscle.  Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans confirmed that none of the stressed patients had suffered irreversible muscle damage.  Of greatest surprise, the team says, was that recovery rates were much faster than typically seen after a heart attack.  Stressed patients showed dramatic improvement in their hearts’ ability to pump within a few days and had complete recovery within two weeks.  In contrast, partial recovery after a heart attack can take weeks or months and, frequently, the heart muscle damage is permanent.

The researchers collected detailed histories and conducted several tests, including blood work, echocardiograms, electrocardiograms, coronary angiograms, MRI scans and heart biopsies, on a total of 19 patients who came to Hopkins between November 1999 and September 2003.  All had signs of an apparent heart attack immediately after some kind of sudden emotional stress, including news of a death, shock from a surprise party, fear of public speaking, armed robbery, a court appearance and a car accident.  Eighteen of the stressed patients were female, between the age of 27 and 87, with a median age of 63.  The results were then compared to seven other patients, all of whom had suffered classic, severe cases of heart attack, called a Killip class III myocardial infarction.

When results from both groups were compared, the researchers found that initial levels of catecholamines in the stress cardiomyopathy patients were two to three times the levels among patients with classic heart attack, and seven to 34 times normal levels.

  • Catecholamine metabolites, such as metanephrine and normetanephrine, were also massively elevated, as were other stress-related proteins, such as neuropeptide Y, brain natriuretic peptide and serotonin.  These results provided added confirmation that the syndrome was stress induced.  Heart biopsies also showed an injury pattern consistent with a high catecholamine state and not heart attack.

A hallmark feature of the syndrome was the heart’s unique contraction pattern as viewed by echocardiogram, or ultrasound.  While the base of the heart’s main pumping chamber, the left ventricle, contracted normally, there was weakened contraction in the middle and upper portions of the muscle.  Other characteristics included a distinctive pattern on electrocardiogram, or EKG.

“How stress hormones act to stun the heart remains unknown, but there are several possible explanations that will be the subject of additional studies,” says study co-investigator and cardiologist Hunter Champion, M.D., Ph.D., an assistant professor at Hopkins and its Heart Institute.  “The chemicals may cause spasm in the coronary arteries, or have a direct toxic effect on the heart muscle, or cause calcium overload that results in temporary dysfunction.”

The researchers also plan to study whether certain patients have a specific genetic vulnerability for developing stress cardiomyopathy, and why it predominantly strikes older women.

While the folklore of “broken heart” syndrome has been around for decades, the prevalence of the condition remains unknown.  According to Wittstein, some reports exist, mainly from Japan, and describe similar syndromes, but no biochemical analyses have previously been performed that link the condition to elevated catecholamine levels.  The researchers contend that while stress cardiomyopathy is not as common as a typical heart attack, it likely occurs more frequently than doctors realize.  They expect its numbers to increase as more physicians learn to recognize the syndrome’s unique clinical features.

Funding for this study, conducted solely at Johns Hopkins, was provided by the Bernard A. and Rebecca S. Bernard Foundation.  Other researchers who took part in this study were Trinity Bivalacqua, M.D., Ph.D.; Jeffrey Rade, M.D.; Katherine Wu, M.D.; Gary Gerstenblith, M.D.; Steven Schulman, M.D.; Kenneth Baughman, M.D.; João Lima, M.D.; and David Thiemann, M.D.

GRIEF AND THE BROKEN HEART:

http://www.freep.com/article/20120110/FEATURES01/201100309/Broken-heart-isn-t-just-fiction

More on Broken Heart Syndrome from MAYO CLINIC

By Mayo Clinic staff


Original Article:  http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/broken-heart-syndrome/DS01135


Definition

Broken heart syndrome is a temporary heart condition brought on by stressful situations, such as the death of a loved one. People with broken heart syndrome may have sudden chest pain or think they’re having a heart attack. These broken heart syndrome symptoms may be brought on by the heart’s reaction to a surge of stress hormones. In broken heart syndrome, a part of your heart temporarily enlarges and doesn’t pump well, while the remainder of the heart functions normally or with even more forceful contractions.

The condition was originally called takotsubo cardiomyopathy. Today, it’s also referred to as stress cardiomyopathy, stress-induced cardiomyopathy or apical ballooning syndrome.

The symptoms of broken heart syndrome are treatable, and the condition usually reverses itself in about a week.

Symptoms

Broken heart syndrome symptoms can mimic a heart attack. Common symptoms include:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • An irregular heartbeat
  • A generalized weakness

Any long-lasting or persistent chest pain could be a sign of a heart attack, so it’s important to take it seriously and call 911 if you experience chest pain.

When to see a doctor
If you’re having any chest pain, a very rapid or irregular heartbeat, or shortness of breath after a stressful event, call 911 or emergency medical assistance immediately.

Causes

The exact cause of broken heart syndrome is unclear. It’s thought that a surge of stress hormones, such as adrenaline, might temporarily damage the hearts of some people. How these hormones might hurt the heart or whether something else is responsible isn’t completely clear. A temporary constriction of the large or small arteries of the heart may play a role.

Broken heart syndrome is often preceded by an intense physical or emotional event. Some potential triggers of broken heart syndrome are:

  • News of an unexpected death of a loved one
  • A frightening medical diagnosis
  • Domestic abuse
  • Losing a lot of money
  • A surprise party
  • Having to perform publicly
  • Physical stressors, such as an asthma attack, infection, a car accident or major surgery

How is broken heart syndrome different from a heart attack?
Most heart attacks are caused by a complete or near complete blockage of a heart artery. This blockage is due to a blood clot forming at the site of narrowing from fatty buildup (atherosclerosis) in the wall of the artery. In broken heart syndrome, the heart arteries are not blocked, although blood flow in the arteries of the heart may be reduced.

Risk factors

Broken heart syndrome affects women far more often than men. It appears that most people who have broken heart syndrome are women 50 or older.

Complications

In rare cases, broken heart syndrome is fatal. However, most who experience broken heart syndrome quickly recover and don’t have long-lasting effects.

Other complications of broken heart syndrome include:

  • Disruptions in your heartbeat
  • A fast or slow heartbeat
  • Backup of fluid into your lungs (pulmonary edema)

It’s also possible that you may have broken heart syndrome again if you have another stressful event.

Preparing for your appointment

Broken heart syndrome is almost always diagnosed in an emergency or hospital setting, since most people with the condition have symptoms identical to a heart attack.

Call 911 or emergency medical help or have someone drive you to an emergency room if you experience new or unexplained chest pain or pressure that lasts for more than a few moments. Don’t waste any time for fear of embarrassment if it’s not a heart attack. Even if there’s another cause for your chest pain, you need to be seen right away.

Have a family member or friend come with you, if possible. Someone who accompanies you can help soak up all the information provided during your evaluation.

Share this information on the way to the hospital:

  • Any symptoms you’re experiencing, and how long you’ve had them.
  • Your key personal information, including any major stresses, such as the death of a loved one, or recent life changes, such as the loss of a job.
  • Your personal and family medical history, including other health problems that you or your close relatives have had, such as diabetes, high cholesterol or heart disease. It’s also helpful for your doctor to know about any prescription and over-the-counter medications you’re taking.
  • Any recent trauma to your chest that may have caused an internal injury, such as a broken rib or pinched nerve.

Once you’re at the hospital, it’s likely that your medical evaluation will move ahead rapidly. Based on results from an electrocardiogram (ECG) and blood tests, your doctor may be able to quickly determine if you are having a heart attack — or give you another explanation for your symptoms. You’ll probably have a number of questions at this point. If you haven’t received the following information, you may want to ask:

  • What do you think is causing my symptoms?
  • Could my symptoms be due to the sudden unexpected death of my partner, as I’ve never had any symptoms like this before?
  • What kinds of tests do I need?
  • Will I need to stay in the hospital?
  • What treatments do I need right now?
  • What are the risks associated with these treatments?
  • What are the next steps in my diagnosis and treatment?
  • Do I need to follow any restrictions in my diet or exercise routine after returning home?
  • Should I see a specialist after returning home?

Don’t hesitate to ask any additional questions that occur to you during your medical evaluation.

What to expect from the doctor
A doctor who sees you for chest pain may ask:

  • What are your symptoms?
  • When did you first begin experiencing symptoms?
  • Have your symptoms gotten worse over time?
  • Where does your pain seem to start?
  • Does your pain radiate to any other parts of your body?
  • Does your pain momentarily increase with each heartbeat?
  • What words would you use to describe your pain?
  • Are you having any trouble breathing?
  • Do your symptoms include nausea or vomiting?
  • Do your symptoms include dizziness or lightheadedness?
  • Does exercise or physical exertion make your symptoms worse?
  • Does anything else seem to make your pain worse?
  • Does anything seem to make your pain better?
  • Are you aware of any history of heart problems in your family?
  • Are you being treated or have you recently been treated for any other health conditions?
  • Have you ever been diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)?
  • What medications are you currently taking, including vitamins and supplements?
  • Do you or did you smoke? How much?
  • Do you use alcohol or caffeine? How much?

Tests and diagnosis

If your doctor suspects you have broken heart syndrome, he or she will use these exams and tests to make a diagnosis:

  • Personal history and physical exam. In addition to a standard physical exam, your doctor will want to know about your medical history, especially whether you’ve ever had heart disease symptoms. People who have broken heart syndrome typically don’t have any heart disease symptoms before they’re diagnosed with broken heart syndrome. Also, your doctor will want to know if you’ve experienced any major stresses recently, such as the death of a loved one.
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG). In this noninvasive test, a technician will place wires on your chest that record the electrical impulses that make your heart beat. An ECG records these electrical signals and can help your doctor detect irregularities in your heart’s rhythm and structure.
  • Chest X-ray. Your doctor will likely order a chest X-ray of your chest to see if your heart is enlarged or has the shape that’s typical of broken heart syndrome, or to see if there are any problems in your lungs that could be causing your symptoms.
  • Echocardiogram. Your doctor may also order an echocardiogram to see if your heart is enlarged or has an abnormal shape, a sign of broken heart syndrome. This noninvasive exam, which includes an ultrasound of your chest, shows detailed images of your heart’s structure and function. Ultrasound waves are transmitted, and their echoes are recorded with a device called a transducer that’s held outside your body. A computer uses the information from the transducer to create moving images on a video monitor.
  • Blood tests. Most people who have broken heart syndrome have an increased amount of certain enzymes in their blood. Your doctor may order blood tests to check for these enzymes to help diagnose broken heart syndrome.

Treatments and drugs

There are no standard treatment guidelines for treating broken heart syndrome. Treatment is similar to treatment for a heart attack until the diagnosis is clear. Most people stay in the hospital while they recover.

Once it’s clear that broken heart syndrome is the cause of your symptoms, your doctor will likely prescribe heart medications for you to take while you’re in the hospital, such as angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, beta blockers or diuretics. These medications help reduce the workload on your heart while you recover and may help prevent further attacks. Many patients make a full recovery within one to two months. Ask your doctor how long you will need to continue taking these medications once you recover.

Procedures that are often used to treat a heart attack, such as balloon angioplasty and stent placement, or even surgery, are not helpful in treating broken heart syndrome. These procedures treat blocked arteries, which are not the cause of broken heart syndrome. However, coronary angiography is often used to diagnose exactly what’s the cause of the chest pain.

Prevention

There’s a chance that broken heart syndrome can happen again after a first episode. There’s no proven therapy to prevent additional episodes; however, many doctors recommend long-term treatment with beta blockers or similar medications that block the potentially damaging effects of stress hormones on the heart. Managing stress in your life is also important.

DS01135Feb. 10, 2011

© 1998-2012 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). All rights reserved. A single copy of these materials may be reprinted for noncommercial personal use only. “Mayo,” “Mayo Clinic,” “MayoClinic.com,” “EmbodyHealth,” “Enhance your life,” and the triple-shield Mayo Clinic logo are trademarks of Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research.

NEW YORK TIMES LINK:

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/09/really-the-claim-grief-can-cause-a-heart-attack/?partner=rss&emc=rss

PATRIOT LEDGER:

http://www.patriotledger.com/news/x2079020136/Broken-heart-syndrome-after-loss-of-loved-one