Can You Really Have a Broken Heart?
The term "broken heart" is more than just an expression. Life-changing events like death, divorce, financial loss or constant anxiety cause emotional stress that can increase your risk of heart attack or stroke.
People can and do suffer from broken heart syndrome, medically known as "stress cardiomyopathy" - a condition in which heart attacks occur in the face of abrupt, stressful news or events. This condition is a well-recognized cause of acute heart failure, lethal ventricular arrhythmias, and ventricular rupture.
In a study published in the American Heart Association's journal Circulation, it states:
"People grieving the death of a close loved one could have a heart attack risk that is 20 times higher than normal."
Although previous studies have shown that the death of a loved one is linked to worsening health over time, this particular study was the first to show that the effects can begin so immediately and strongly following a loss, and remain high for quite some time.
Effects on the body, include:
- increased levels of stress hormones
- increase heart rate
- increased blood pressure
- increased risk of blood clotting
Though a broken heart won't crack down the middle or shatter to pieces like we see in cartoons, the emotional stress is nothing to ignore. If you or loved one is experiencing anxiety, depression or chest pain following the death of a loved one or other event, it's important to speak with your doctor. The caring physicians and staff at UnityPoint Health - Trinity are here to help.