Broken Heart Syndorome

Artists and poets have believed that a broken heart could kill one for centuries. Finally, the medical profession have caught up with these creative people. Of course, the medical profession had to give it a more medical sounding name, they call it Broken Heart Syndrome.

What is Broken Heart Syndrome? To put it in simple terms, it is when something shocking or divesting occurs in ones life, example would be a sudden death in one’s family. The news is usually unexpected, something one’s body is not ready to process. When this person gets the news, a sudden flow of adrenaline rushes through the body and shocks the heart, as if a heart attack is occurring. If untreated, the heart can actually stop beating and the person can die.

Researchers at John Hopkins Hospital have begun studying cases that first appears as a normal massive heart attack. The patient will have all the signs at the beginning. Usually, the pain begins in the arm and then continues on into the chest area. The chest pain continues, fluid begins to build in the lungs, patients suffer shortness of breath and left untreated heart failure can occur.

Middle age and elderly women, with no previous heart problems or risk factors , are usually the suffers of Broken Heart Syndrome. The doctors began recognizing that more and more cases where these women were coming in with what first appeared as a heart attack were occurring. The symptoms would last sometimes for a few days. They would be treated just as one would be for a heart attack. Then as the tests (that are always given when a heart attack has been expected) results begin to come back on these patients, things didn’t add up as they should with a regular heart attack.

The angiograms would show no blockage in the arteries. Blood tests would show no signs of elevated cardiac enzymes, which always appear after a heart attack. MRI’s would show no muscle damage (which also always occur after a heart attack, especially a massive one, which is the what appears to be happening when one is first suffering from Broken Heart Syndrome). What was even more surprising to the doctor’s was that these patients were recovering within a few days up to a couple of weeks (their heart was back to pumping normally). When one has a heart attack, it can take the heart weeks to months to begin to function normally and sometimes it has to have medicines to do this.

All of this baffled doctors. They began doing detailed studies on 19 patients that were admitted between November 1999 and September 2003. They came to the conclusion that these 19 patients that were first admitted with signs of heart attack had suffered from Broken Heart Syndrome. Of these patients right before their episodes they all had suffered a sudden shock such as: news of a death, shock of a surprise party, fear of public speaking, armed robbery, court appearance, car accident. Of these 19 patients, 18 of them were female between the ages of 27- to 87.

Researchers still do not know why sudden stress can shock the heart. More studies are being done.

Should you take Broken Heart Syndrome seriously? Yes. Although, thankfully, it does not seem to cause any damage to the heart. It can lead to death, if left untreated. The heart after all is stunned, it can and may stop beating, that means death.

Why has it taken doctors longer than poets to understand that stress or a Broken Heart can actually harm us? Doctors say they needed proof and it took time for their machines to tell them what a lot of people all ready believed. Our hearts can break, do treat them with kindness.

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