It’s World Heart Day today and as well as providing you with useful facts, we at FindMeCure decided to talk about a bit of an obscure condition – Broken Heart Syndrome. This is no joke: Broken Heart Syndrome is a thing and it can have serious consequences, there is, in fact, an established connection between mental health issues such as depression and heart disease.

So what is Broken Heart Syndrome?

Well, technically the correct term is “stress-induced cardiomyopathy”. It’s also called “Takotsubo cardiomyopathy”, named after the Japanese word for a kind of octopus trap because the left ventricle takes on a shape resembling a fishing pot.

And yes, not for a surprise, there’s a huge clinical trial on Broken Heart Syndrome (Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy) on FindMeCure. It’s recruiting right now in Switzerland (Sponsor: University of Zurich) and more than 30 other locations in Europe and the US.  So, if curious to learn more about it, follow the button below.  However, I advise you to first get to the end of this article, so you know what you will be dealing with.

Show Me This Trial Now

Broken Heart Syndrome is when a surge of stress hormones leads to an intense chest pain, typically after a heart-breaking event like divorce or separation, death of a loved one or another such loss, and women are more prone to it than men are. Even though there are no blocked coronary arteries, BHS can be and often is misdiagnosed as a heart attack. In a nutshell, if you are experiencing Broken Heart Syndrome, a part of your heart doesn’t pump well and other parts of the heart try to compensate by pumping more forcefully.

The bad news is, this could lead to cardiogenic shock – this is when the heart can’t pump enough blood and it could be fatal if not treated immediately. On the positive side, however, unlike the heart attack, which too can lead to cardiogenic shock, BHS’s recovery time is much shorter – patient’s health improves within weeks. The symptoms are easy to recognise, but keep in mind they can just as easily be mistaken for heart attack symptoms – sudden and intense chest pain, shortness of breath. After a full recovery, the odds of experiencing a BHS again are fairly low.

So, now that you know a person’s heart can almost literally break, even when no of the typical heart health dangers are present (such as smoking or obesity), we urge you to be more gentle with yourself and others. Even the banalities of everyday life (who hasn’t lost at least a dozen people throughout the course of their life?) can have a huge impact on our physical condition.

Photo by Cathal Mac an Bheatha on Unsplash.
FindMeCure/Broken Heart

Heart disease is among the leading causes of death in most of the developed countries and considering the figurative meaning of the heart, it is frightening to realise that even though we generally have a high standard of living, we are not particularly good at looking after our hearts. Besides bad eating habits, physical inactivity and smoking, stress is the main influence over heart health conditions, so even if you lead a health-conscious life, take a look at the way you handle stressful situations.

Now, here are some facts and stats about heart health, as well as some things you will want to consider if you’re looking to protect your heart.

  • Heart disease accounts to 1 in 4 deaths in the US every year[1].
  • Age and “shape” affect your heart rate – your heart rate gets slower the older you get… and it gets slower the more “fit” you get. Adult athletes’ heart rate is 40-60 bpm, compared to 70-160 bpm in newborn babies.
  • A common myth is that heart disease mostly affects men – in fact, it’s so common, that women are often treated as a low-risk group. However, more than 1 in 3 women have heart disease according to AHA (American Heart Association) and more women die from heart problems (the literal kind) than from most of the kinds of cancer combined.
  • Heart rate drops to as low as 40 bpm while sleeping because metabolism slows down.
  • Fitness level is a huge factor and we cannot stress this enough – physically inactive people are two times more likely to experience heart disease compared to physically active people. It only takes 150 minutes a week of moderate physical activity like walking to lower your risk of heart health issues.
  • Depression increases the risk of heart conditions, especially in women. Women under 55 with moderate to severe depression are at a bigger risk of a heart attack.
  • Christmas season is not the most wonderful time of the year as far as heart health is concerned – the number of heart attack peak on Christmas day.
  • Sorry to break it to you, but less meat consumption is indeed linked to better heart health. This doesn’t mean you have to go vegetarian, just maybe… skip the beacon from time to time and limit the amount of red meat as it can negatively affect other areas of your body as well.

On a final note, now figuratively speaking, I would argue that the best way to “protect your heart” is… to stop trying to protect your heart. Open up to people, as scary as it is sometimes, because a properly functioning heart is an open heart (and that’s quite literally true, even though we’re being figurative here). And when your heart gets broken, remember the Japanese art of Kintsugi – repairing broken pottery with gold, so the thing that was broken becomes even more beautiful.

So, go for a jog and eat your veggies, but most importantly – love with all you’ve got. It’s the most meaningful thing we can do. <3 

Take Me to The Trial for Broken Heart Syndrome



Article by Nelly Katsarova

1 Comment

  1. I honestly didn’t know that broken heart syndrome was a thing, however, it does make sense as to why we do feel a pain in our chests after the passing of a loved one. I will be sure to be more considerate when talking to people since you did mention that your heart can almost literally break. If anything bad did come up for me, I would probably seek out a professional to help me out.

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