(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
On Valentine's Day, people who have been unlucky in love will be said to suffer
from a "broken heart." It turns out that a broken heart is an actual medical
condition. Broken heart syndrome occurs during highly stressful or emotional
times, such as a painful breakup, the death of a spouse, the loss of a job or
extreme anger, said Loyola University Health System cardiologist Dr. Binh An P.
Broken heart syndrome also is called stress cardiomyopathy.
Symptoms are similar to those of a heart attack, including chest pain and
difficulty breathing. The good news is that, over time, the symptoms go away.
And unlike heart attack patients, people with broken heart syndrome do not
suffer lasting damage to their hearts, Phan said.
"Most people will get
better in a few weeks without medical treatment," Phan said.
extremely stressful event, the heart can be overwhelmed with a surge of
adrenalin and other stress hormones. This can cause a narrowing of the arteries
that supply blood to the heart. It's similar to what happens during a heart
attack, when a blood clot in a coronary artery restricts blood supply to heart
muscle. But unlike a heart attack, broken heart syndrome is reversible, Phan
But it's difficult to distinguish between broken heart syndrome and
a heart attack, Phan said. Thus, if you experience symptoms such as chest pain
and difficulty breathing, don't assume you're having broken heart syndrome --
Phan is director of Loyola's new Preventive Cardiology and
Lipid Program, which helps prevent heart attacks and other cardiac-related
disorders and provides advanced treatment of cholesterol disorders.
has received advanced fellowship training in cardiology and is a board-certified
lipidologist. His special interests include lipidology (the study of
cholesterol), preventive cardiology and noninvasive atherosclerosis imaging.
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This article was first published at www.newswise.com
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