It might sound like a story line from a movie – a person suffering from a ‘broken heart.’
While it’s not usually a fatal event, according to Steven Nissen, M.D., chairman of Cardiovascular Medicine at Cleveland Clinic, there is such a thing as ‘Broken Heart Syndrome.’Broken Heart Syndrome is real
Dr. Nissen said ‘Broken Heart Syndrome’ is a type of cardiomyopathy and most often occurs after a person has suffered an extreme emotional experience.
“When that happens, for reasons we don’t fully understand, there’s a surge of adrenaline in the body, and the result simulates a heart attack,” said Dr. Nissen.Cardiomyopathy vs. Heart Attack
According to Dr. Nissen, during an episode of cardiomyopathy, the heart muscle actually stops contracting and as a result will look like a heart attack even when an electrocardiogram, or EKG, is performed.
However, unlike a heart attack, there is no blockage present, just a contraction problem.
Dr. Nissen said folks rarely die from ‘Broken Heart Syndrome,’ but they can become very sick.
The good news is that people who experience this type of event can expect their heart muscle to return to normal after a few weeks.Gender differences
Dr. Nissen also said that for reasons not fully known, the condition effects more women than men.
“More people that have this are women than men, probably at least four or five to one,” said Dr. Nissen.
“So it does occur more commonly in women, perhaps it’s because women experience emotions more strongly than men typically in our society.”
Dr. Nissen stressed it’s very important to never assume that any chest pain or pressure is not a heart attack and that folks experiencing any type of heart-related symptoms should always call 9-1-1 first.