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Broken Heart Syndrome...Can You really Die of a Broken Heart?

Updated on March 25, 2017
I hope if something happens to my wonderful husband, that I don't have a broken heart but at least I can identify it now!
I hope if something happens to my wonderful husband, that I don't have a broken heart but at least I can identify it now! | Source


Yes, you can actually die of a broken heart, but it is highly unlikely. And you are more apt to develop the real syndrome called, "broken heart syndrome" if you are a post-menopausal woman over the age of 50. When I was doing research on heart attacks for another hub about my personally having a heart attack in 2005, I discovered that there is another condition that mimics a heart attack but is called, "broken heart syndrome." Other names for it are "stress cardiomyopathy" or the Japanese term of "Takotsubo cardiomyopathy."

Temporary Condition

This temporary heart condition is usually brought on by some type of sudden stress such as the death of a spouse, a scary medical diagnosis, domestic violence, losing a lot of money, or physical traumas such as a car accident, surgery, losing a limb and the like. It could also be brought on by being forced to speak in public, or even something as simple as being frightened at a haunted house or a surprise party. Symptoms of broken heart syndrome look very similar to symptoms of a heart attack.

Broken Heart Syndrome is Often Not Recognized

Since the discovery of broken heart syndrome was as recent as the early 1990s, many doctors don't recognize the syndrome and treat people for heart attacks when they arrive at a hospital with the type of symptoms such as chest pain, arm pain, shortness of breath and an irregular heartbeat. What is happening is that the body is reacting to this suddenly induced stress with a rush of adrenaline or stress hormones that temporarily enlarges the left ventricle of the heart. When this happens, the blood can't flow well, and slows down, causing some or all of the above symptoms. With a heart attack, there is a blockage in the arteries which cause the attack. With broken heart syndrome, it is as though your heart is in shock, balloons up and freezes into not being able to work correctly. It can cause an irregular heartbeat or a heartbeat that is too fast or maybe too slow. Occasionally this can be fatal, but for the most part, the symptoms will disappear with treatment within two days to two months. Treatment for these symptoms can include heart medications and baby aspirin. For some unknown reason, women are more susceptible to this syndrome than men, and women who have reached the age of menopause or older are more likely to be affected. But it does happen to a small group of men, and women younger than 50.

I can understand why someone might have a broken heart after the sudden death of a spouse. Especially in my case because I have found the love of my life and was fortunate enough to marry him years after a messy divorce. Living without him would be quite traumatic and heartbreaking for me. I certainly hope I don't die of a broken heart if something happens to my husband. But at least I will be able to identify the condition to my doctors and have them check for that first before having them assume it is a second heart attack.

To read more about broken heart syndrome you can purchase the book below!

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    • Karen Hellier profile image
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      Karen Hellier 5 years ago from Georgia

      Mhatter99,

      You must have loved your wife very much. I am sorry for your loss. Most people are not as fortunate as you to have that kind of support. I really don't know much about the masons, and had no idea they were so supportive. Maybe you could write a hub about it? Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment.

    • Karen Hellier profile image
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      Karen Hellier 5 years ago from Georgia

      buckwheats,

      I didn't know that either until I was researching something else. It is certainly understandable though. Thanks for reading.

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 5 years ago from San Francisco

      When my wife died the masons rushed to my aid. For months I was never alone. I was given charity work to do and someone slept at my house. I mourned for 2 years. because I worked with children, for appearances, I was encouraged to date again.

    • profile image

      buckwheats 5 years ago

      very informative i didn't know that...i mean i know you can die of a broken heart but i didn't know there was a broken heart syndrome.

    • Karen Hellier profile image
      Author

      Karen Hellier 5 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks teaches12345,

      I agree it is sad to hear that, but also very sweet. When that happens to couple, I think it is a true testament to how much they loved each other.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      I have heard of this before, it is sad to think about. It is really interesting how a mate will die shortly after his or her spouse passes on. Really good read.

    • Karen Hellier profile image
      Author

      Karen Hellier 5 years ago from Georgia

      jpcmc,

      Well, I will have to keep an eye out for reruns of this show. That sounds pretty neat.

    • Karen Hellier profile image
      Author

      Karen Hellier 5 years ago from Georgia

      SusieQ42,

      I can believe it. If she didn't have heart attack symptoms though, she probably didn't have this Broken Heart Syndrome...just a broken heart.

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 5 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Yeah, Eliot was the one handling the patient and she was stumped when all test came back OK. It was Perry who pointed out the signs. I can't remember the season and episode though.

    • profile image

      SusieQ42 5 years ago

      I know someone whose grandfather died; he was over 100 years old. His wife (my friend's grandmother) was still alive at the time but only lived a few weeks after her husband died. She was said to have died from a broken heart after being married to her husband over 70 years!

    • Karen Hellier profile image
      Author

      Karen Hellier 5 years ago from Georgia

      jpcmc,

      Really? I missed that one, although I don't watch Scrubs that often. I thought it was a really unique phenomenon that no one really talks about. Dying of a broken heart just seems like a cliche that people say when a spouse of an elderly person dies and the other is left behind. But I thought it was really amazing that it's an actual physical condition.

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 5 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      I hear about this on the TV series Scrubs. A broken heart can really detrimental - psychologically and physically.