A condition known as “broken heart syndrome” — where a sudden or chronic stress causes overwhelming stress on your heart or a heart problem — appears to be experienced 7 to 9 times more often by women than men, according to new research.
A classic case of this syndrome is after a woman has just suffered the loss of her son or husband, and then finds herself suffering from a heart attack or related heart failure.
The data was presented yesterday at an American Heart Association conference in Florida by Dr. Abhishek Deshmukh of the University of Arkansas. His curiosity was sparked by why it appeared that mostly women suffered this phenomenon, while men did not.
After scouring a federal hospital database, Dr. Deshmuhk found 6,299 records in 2007 that fit the criteria for broken heart syndrome (also known as Takotsubo cardiomyopathy by Japanese doctors, who first recognized the syndrome in the early 1990s). Of the over 6,000 records, only 671 involved men.
After adjusting for secondary factors that may contribute to heart problems — such as smoking, a history of heart disease in the family, or high blood pressure — Deshmuhk found women were 7.5 times more likely to suffer from the syndrome than men.
The discrepancy narrows as a woman ages, with women over 55 just 3 times more likely than men to suffer from this problem. The discrepancy widens with younger than 55 women, where the gap was 9.5 times.
Most occurrences of the syndrome are not fatal; only 1 percent result in death, according to the researchers. Most people who suffer from broken heart syndrome make a full recovery over time. A second episode occurs in about 10 percent in the group of people studied.
There are no definitive answers as to why this phenomenon occurs. Theories range from the impact that hormones may play, to adrenaline receptors in men’s hearts, which may be able to handle stress better.
Source: Wire reports