Most people know how bad a broken heart can be psychologically. But it can also hurt physically. Broken Heart Syndrome – an acute heart disease that is typically triggered by a violent emotional strain such as stress or heartache.
If you’ve tried to lose someone you care about, you’ve probably also tried to have “heart pain”. One can be so sad that it feels as if the chest is being squeezed hard and it hurts in the soul.
Anxiety, accidents, and violent quarrels or stress can also cause the heart to pound in the chest, making it feel uncomfortable. But sometimes it doesn’t just hurt in a figurative sense. It can also physically hurt and “paralyze” the heart so that it looks and feels as if a blood clot has settled here.
Broken Heart Syndrome looks like a blood clot in the heart. You get chest pain, which can radiate to the arm, and you can be short of breath. The first examinations at the hospital also point to a blood clot in the heart, but when you come in and can see the coronary artery, it is clear that it is not, says the cardiologist.
It is not yet completely known what the cause of Broken Heart Syndrome is, but in about two thirds of cases it is associated with physical or mental stress, where a high level of stress hormones has been triggered by eg anxiety or grief – hence the name – and gets the heart to beat faster and stronger.
The heart then looks like a “Japanese squid”
When Japanese fishermen catch squid, they use a trap shaped like a vase. It’s called Takotsubo. The heart has more or less the same shape in the acute phase of Broken Heart Syndrome, and since it was Japanese cardiologists who discovered the condition in 1991, it also has the name “Takotsubo’s cardiomyopathy”.
Broken Heart Syndrome differs from a blood clot in that scans show that the heart is pumping poorly. With a blood clot, the heart only pumps badly where the blood clot is, but with Broken Heart Syndrome, the whole heart pumps badly and gets a pointed shape like this Japanese vase.
Previously, doctors just thought that it was a blood clot, and if they could not find the blood clot it was believed that it has passed by itself.
It is such a condition that does not really fit on any shelves, and it is therefor often not discovered in patients, even today.
Affects most women
Oftest women are having Broken Heart Syndrome.
It has been estimated that about two percent of patients who enter the hospital with symptoms of a blood clot in their heart have Broken Heart Syndrome.
It can happen to anyone.
None of the common risk factors such as diabetes, smoking or obesity trigger this disease. So it can in principle happen to anyone, but it is most often women, and they are typically a little younger than those who usually get a blood clot in the heart.
There is not really a profound or scientific explanation for it, and therefore we can not be prevented either.
It is not even known iif it can be related to psychological things, but there is an over-frequency of those affected who have been exposed to something stressful such as grief, anxiety, accidents, break ups and quarrels, where stress hormones are released and make the vessels tighten in the heart so that the blood supply is affected.
However, in some cases, but fewer, patients who have not been exposed to an emotional stress load, has also got the syndrome.
Recedes all by itself
The positive thing about Broken Heart Syndrome is that it is very rarely fatal – and then it even mostly goes away on its own.
After a few days or weeks, the heart will typically pump normally again. You can of course be hit more or less, where the worst thing is if the heart stops pumping completely. But there are also mild cases where you do not feel very much and it is literally not discovered that you have it. Unfortunately, you have an increased risk of experiencing it again, if you have already had it once.
Sadly, there is no cure for Broken Heart Syndrome, but doctors can of course help relieve the symptoms, and most will quickly get back on their feet.
And there is nothing that can be done to prevent it, as it is not known exactly what causes it. But fortunately, things are going well for the vast majority, and this is not something that happens frequently despite the fact that hardly anyone can go through the whole life without quarrels, stress or a broken heart.
What are the symptoms?
Chest pressure, shortness of breath and abdominal pain are typical symptoms of both a blood clot in the heart and Broken Heart Syndrome.
Other symptoms may include:
- Heart palpitations
But again, don’t worry. It is very rare and it is very unlikely you’ll get it. So go enjoy life with all it’s ups and downs 🙂