Imagine the pain of being broken up with, or worse, a loved one has died and you feel the physical ache within the left cavity of your chest. You may be experiencing a rite of passage through adulthood’s love and loss, or you could be experiencing a life-threatening condition — broken heart syndrome.
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In 1991, Japanese researchers first discovered takotsubo cardiomyopathy , also known as stress cardiomyopathy or broken heart syndrome.
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The condition causes its victims to experience sudden chest pain and shortness of breath and is often triggered by a tragic event, such as living through a car accident or receiving emotionally difficult news.
Researchers from Minneapolis Heart Institute, observed, after studying 200 takotsubo cardiomyopathy patients’ medical histories, that the blood pumping in and out of your heart becomes temporarily disrupted by a surge of stress hormones, which are secreted in response to devastating news, according to the Mayo Clinic . The contraction in your heart may be more than just a flicker of elevated blood pulsing through a valve, though; it may actually kill you.
“It’s not as benign a condition as originally thought,” Dr. Scott Sharkey, a research cardiologist at the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation, told Yahoo News. “The true mortality rate is only becoming manifest as we have a broader experience with this.”
The study, published in the American Journal of Medicine , showed that the condition is an overwhelmingly female-dominated condition as only 10 percent of the test subjects were male.
At first, the symptoms experienced might confuse doctors into proceeding with an angiogram to X-ray the heart’s blood vessels. Then they hone in on the heart’s left ventricle with a cardiac MRI or CT exam to see if it matches the distinctions found in the hearts of takotsubo cardiomyopathy patients.
The abnormal contractions of a broken heart usually go away after one to four weeks, but if the pain persists longer, patients receive aggressive treatments, such as blood pressure medication and breathing machines. Of the 45 patients treated, nine died despite the interventions administered by medical teams.
By: Ayoola Adetayo