Porter Regional Hospital Asks the Question: What Becomes of the Broken Hearted?

By: Porter Regional Hospital Last Updated: May 5, 2016

Heart-HealthBroken heart syndrome sheds light on the intricate connection between your heart and your head.

Also known as stress-induced cardiomyopathy, apical ballooning syndrome and takotsubo cardiomyopathy, broken heart syndrome is a cardiovascular health condition caused by strong emotions.

A divorce, breakup, loss of a loved one or even good news, such as winning the lottery, that overwhelms your emotions may all cause this condition, though the exact reason is still not fully understood. During an episode, extreme emotions cause a portion of the heart to swell temporarily, causing the heart to pump blood less effectively even though there is no blockage.

Spotting a Fake Symptoms of stress-induced cardiomyopathy are similar to those of a heart attack and can include chest pain, shortness of breath and irregular heartbeat. These signs rightly prompt those with this condition to seek emergency medical care.

At the hospital, tests help reveal the true cause of symptoms. In patients with broken heart syndrome, the results from electrocardiograms, blood tests and imaging will reveal no blockages, alerting doctors to the core issue.

Broken heart syndrome can cause a potentially fatal, though uncommon, condition known as cardiogenic shock that requires emergency intervention. When this happens, the heart muscle becomes weak and stops pumping enough blood to support life. Cardiogenic shock is rare in those with stress-induced cardiomyopathy but should be taken seriously and treated promptly to prevent serious health complications.

Getting Back to Normal Recovery from an episode of stress-induced cardiomyopathy typically takes several days or weeks. Once the heart has recovered, focusing on prevention and wellness is key.

Effective stress management is important to the recovery of all patients with cardiac health concerns, and that rings true for those with broken heart syndrome because unchecked stress is the root cause of the condition. Recurring episodes of broken heart syndrome can damage the heart muscle. Learning how to manage stressful situations can help prevent this.

Counseling, medication, mindfulness techniques and lifestyle changes can all contribute to the resolution of stress and help protect the heart. Treatment with cardiovascular medications may also be necessary to address symptoms and encourage normal heart function.

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