Causes, Treatments, and Prevention of the Broken Heart Syndrome
A broken heart can be a real reason why a particular people had died, which is confirmed by many told stories from the witnesses. Researchers and heart experts suggest that broken heart can do more than just causing emotional distress, by compromising the heart health and causing the real heart problems. Actually, a broken heart can contribute to an early death.
The broken heart syndrome is known as a medically stress-induced cardiomyopathy or takotsubo cardiomyopathy. Myopathy is actually a muscle disease, according to its Greek roots and takotsubo means it is caused by stress. This is a cardiovascular damage triggered by emotional stress and is often misdiagnosed as a heart attack.
When this disease is caught early, it can be treated with success, but if not, it can result in heart muscle failure.
According to the cardiologist Dr. Zachary Goldberger at University of Washington notes, he sees at least one patient each week with broken heart syndrome.
The researchers found that the main reason, which causes this damage is a flow of stress hormones to the heart, such as adrenaline. The flow of this hormone results in an enlargement or constriction of various heart tissue and weakening of the heart, thus changing how your heart pumps blood. The symptoms of this condition are both blood pressure and circulation and can cause many health complications.
Dr. Goldberger explains that the older people are more prone to heart failure and the outcome can be more serious.
The estimation of some doctors is that as much as 1 – 2% of all patients diagnosed with heart attacks are actually suffering from broken heart syndrome. The majority (90 to 95 percent) of all victims of broken heart syndrome are female that are 50 years or older. Doctors suspect that this may be at least the result of post-menopausal hormonal differences.
Complications of the broken heart syndrome may include:
– Disrupted heartbeat,
– Fluid buildup in the lungs, and
– Full heart failure.
As a result, of all above mentioned, it may look like a stroke or heart attack.
The most common symptoms of broken heart syndrome, according to the Mayo Clinic, are:
– Shortness of breath,
– Irregular heartbeat,
– Sudden and intense chest pain, and
As you can see all those symptoms are of a heart attack.
Dr. Goldberger working on this complication elaborates: “Typically we see it in middle-aged women, 60s-70s, who have had some sort of emotional or physical stress, loss of a loved one, hardship economically…What they’re presented with is chest pain, loss of breath….Only after the heart attack has been ruled out are we starting to entertain this diagnosis of this broken heart syndrome, which is more medically called stress cardiomyopathy.”
In attempts to diagnose broken heart syndrome, it is necessary to make some tests. Here are some tools that are commonly used to diagnose the broken heart syndrome:
– Physical exam and patient history
– Blood tests – used for discovering various enzymes in the blood
– Electrocardiogram and echocardiogram – used to analyze the heart
– Chest X-rays – to see the changes in the dimensions of the parts of the heart
– Coronary angiograms – an imaging technique which uses special dyes in the bloodstream
– Cardiac MRIs – provides more detailed images of the heart
How can broken heart syndrome be treated?
The doctors don’t recognize a standard treatment for broken heart syndrome because every case is based on the unique situation. If the diagnosis is unclear many doctors treat that condition similar to that of a heart attack.
Broken heart syndrome can be treated:
– Including medicines to relieve fluid buildup,
– Treating the blood pressure, or
– Managing the stress hormones.
Treating by medications lasts until the doctor is assured that the heart is back to functioning normally. Some of the doctors will prescribe anti-anxiety medications or provide other suggestions for managing stress.
Along with medical treatments, patients should adhere to a healthy lifestyle as much as possible.
Preventing broken heart syndrome
Cardiologists have reported that the risk of having a repeated episode of this condition is low.
Here are some measures of preventing:
1) Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is one of the best ways of preventing the broken heart syndrome. The healthy lifestyle includes:
– Eating nutritional foods, and
– Avoiding tobacco.
2) Relaxation therapy – deals with the emotional stress that may have contributed to a broken heart syndrome episode. The relaxation techniques, such as tai chi, yoga, and meditation are often recommended.
3) Get regular physical checkups,
4) Surround yourself with supportive people.