A new study by Loyola University Health System cardiologists has demonstrated that a broken heart refers to an actual medical condition that feels like a heart attack.
The study suggested that broken heart syndrome, also known as stress-induced cardiomyopathy, Takosubo's cardiomyopathy or transient apical ballooning syndrome occurs during highly stressful or emotional situations, such as divorce, death of a spouse, a serious medical diagnosis or significant financial problems.
The underlying cause of the syndrome is not known but is thought to be secondary to the release of adrenalin and other stress hormones that have a deleterious effect on the heart. The symptoms typically include chest pain and difficulty breathing, and can easily be mistaken for a heart attack. It occurs in patients older than 50 years and is more common in women, although it can also occur in younger women and men.
Cardiologist Sara Sirna, MD, said, "Like a heart attack, broken heart syndrome can be very alarming to patients but unlike a heart attack, broken heart syndrome usually is reversible, with no long-lasting effects on the heart muscle. Most affected individuals regain cardiac function within a short period of time."