A Broken Heart Really Does Exist

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Updated: 10/07/2013 4:26 pm Published: 2/14/2013 4:18 pm

You might have felt broken hearted after a relationship has gone south. It's a non-literal term we use quite often, but it really does exist as Broken Heart Syndrome. With National Heart Health Month here St. John's Heart Institute wants to shed light on this condition. "It's also called stress-induced cardiomyopathy or takotsubo cardiomyopathy and occurs when a person encounters emotional or physical stress, which may cause rapid and severe heart muscle weakness," Dr. Greta Warta said. This syndrome is more common in women than men in particular women over the age of 50. Studies show that women are more prone to broken heart syndrome, possibly because of hormones; broken heart syndrome is more prevalent in women over the age of 50. Symptoms include chest pain, shortness of breath, and irregular heartbeat. It might sound like a heat attack, but there are some distinct difference. "A heart attack occurs when the blood flow that brings oxygen to the heart muscle is reduced or cut off completely. This happens because coronary arteries that supply the heart muscle with blood flow can slowly become narrow from a buildup of fat, cholesterol and other substances," Warta said. "No standard treatment guidelines for broken heart syndrome; treatment is generally similar to treatment for a heart attack until the diagnosis is clear," she said. However there is some good news. "Medications may be prescribed to help reduce workload on the heart; patients typically able to make a full recovery."

For more information on the St. John PulseLine call 918-744-0123 or visit

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