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Emotional Stress Can Lead to ‘Broken Heart’

Emotional Stress Can Lead to ‘Broken Heart’

Now that Valentine’s Day has come and gone, some may have experienced a “broken heart.” In fact, the stress of ending a relationship can lead to a very real medical condition.

“Broken heart syndrome occurs during highly stressful or emotional times, such as divorce, the death of a spouse, a serious medical diagnosis, or significant financial problems,” said Loyola University Health System cardiologist Sara Sirna, M.D.

Broken heart syndrome also is known as stress-induced cardiomyopathy, Takosubo’s cardiomyopathy, or transient apical ballooning syndrome.

The underlying cause is not known but is thought to be secondary to the release of adrenalin and other stress hormones that have a deleterious effect on the heart. Symptoms typically include chest pain and difficulty breathing, and can easily be mistaken for a heart attack.

Broken heart syndrome typically occurs in patients older than 50 and is more common in women, although it also can occur in younger women and men.

“Like a heart attack, broken heart syndrome can be very alarming to patients,” Sirna said.

“But unlike a heart attack, broken heart syndrome usually is reversible, with no long-lasting effects on the heart muscle. Most affected individuals regain cardiac function within a short period of time.”

It’s often difficult to tell the difference between broken heart syndrome and a heart attack. Thus, if you experience symptoms such as chest pain and difficulty breathing, don’t assume you’re having broken heart syndrome — call 911, Sirna said.

Source: Loyola University Chicago/Newswise

Emotional Stress Can Lead to ‘Broken Heart’

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Emotional Stress Can Lead to ‘Broken Heart’. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 27, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018 (Originally: 17 Feb 2015)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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