Allina Hospitals and Clinics
By Scott Sharkey, MD, FACC
Broken Heart Syndrome is a real condition that is not just in your mind. Patients can experience chest pain, shock, and profound illness when this happens. Similar to a heart attack, the heart muscle is disabled during Broken Heart Syndrome. But unlike a heart attack, there is no blocked artery in the heart. Broken Heart Sydrome feels and acts like a heart attack in all other ways.
Since 2001, my team and I have studied Broken Heart Syndrome and have seen 400 patients who have experienced it. Of the patients we see, 90 percent of them are women. The cause of Broken Heart Syndrome is different for men and women. Half the time, women's symptoms are caused by psychological stress, such as the loss of a loved one. Men, on the other hand, typically develop symptoms while dealing with another illness such as pneumonia. There really is no one situation that causes Broken Heart Syndrome. Different situations pose different stress levels for people. I've treated patients whose symptoms were brought on after losing a home in a tornado, getting lost while driving, or dealing with the stress of public speaking.
Broken Heart Syndrome is a human condition that happens across the world. While it can be fatal, the goods news is that most people typically recover in one to two weeks and they are at low risk of it happening again.
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