Can a person with a broken heart die? It’s more than just a romantic expression. Lovesickness can be a deadly disease. Stress causes heart failure. When this happens, a person with a broken heart dies eventually. This extreme heart condition is called Takotsubo cardiomyopathy.
Stress cardiomyopathy is the medical term for “broken heart syndrome”. It is known as takotsubo cardiomyopathy which is named after an octopus trap. It is an irreversible heart condition that primarily affects most women. This dangerous heart condition was got its name from Japan in 1990. Extreme emotional or physical stress weakens the heart muscle. This rapid and severe heart muscle weakness is called cardiomyopathy.
This potentially life-threatening heart condition may occur due to the following stressful conditions:
- grief caused by the death of a loved one
- fear, extreme anger and surprise
- separation anxiety
- physical stress causes such as stroke and seizures
- breathing problems such as a flare of asthma or emphysema
Takotsubo cardiomyopathy is the weakening of the heart’s left ventricle. It is the heart’s main pumping chamber. This usually results from severe emotional or physical stress. Harvard University listed four life situations causing this extreme heart condition.
Sudden illness, the death of a loved one, a serious accident and natural disasters often cause stress. These stress causes lead to Takotsubo cardiomyopathy. It is a stressed-induce cardiomyopathy which is better known as broken heart syndrome.
While the causes of the conditions are different, stress symptoms for cardiomyopathy are often similar to those of a heart attack. Consider the list below.
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Nausea and vomiting
- Palpitations (the sensation of the heart pounding)
Similar to a heart attack, patients with stress cardiomyopathy can present with low blood pressure, congestive heart failure, and even shock. But unlike a heart attack, which kills heart cells, it is believed that stress cardiomyopathy uses adrenaline and other hormones to temporarily stun heart cells. Fortunately, this stunning gets better very quickly, often within just a few days to a few weeks. So even though a person with stress cardiomyopathy can have severe heart muscle weakness at the time of admission to the hospital, the heart completely recovers within a couple of weeks in most cases and there is no permanent damage.