A recent newspaper report said, “Two days after fourth-grade teacher Irma Garcia was killed in the Uvalde, Texas school shooting, her husband, Joe Garcia, suddenly died as well. Family members attributed his death to a broken heart.”
Broken heart syndrome mimics a heart attack. The exact cause of broken heart syndrome is unclear. It’s thought that a surge of stress hormones, such as adrenaline, might temporarily damage the hearts of some people. This happens after an extreme stressful event.
A person has no previous history of heart problems or coronary artery disease. That is coronaries are not plugged with atherosclerosis.
Broken heart syndrome may also be called: stress cardiomyopathy, Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, or apical ballooning syndrome.
Incidence of heart attacks caused by broken heart syndrome is around two per cent. Around one percent of people with broken heart syndrome ultimately die of it.
What are the risk factors for broken heart syndrome?
People who have anxiety or depression may have a higher risk of broken heart syndrome. Intense physical or emotional event is usually a precipitating factor. Anything that causes a strong emotional response, such as a death or other loss, or a strong argument may trigger this condition.
Chronic stress is another risk factor. Taking steps to manage emotional stress can improve heart health and may help prevent broken heart syndrome.
The condition is most common among women ages 50 and up. Women represented around 88 per cent of cases of broken heart syndrome (Journal of the American Heart Association Oct 13, 2021). An article in Cureus. (2020 Sep) also found that anxiety disorders were more prevalent in patients with broken heart syndrome than among healthy people.
How do you know you have broken heart syndrome?
Individuals with broken heart syndrome have signs and symptoms that mimic a heart attack and may include chest pain, shortness of breath and/or irregular pulse rate should seek immediate help and call 911. Take these symptoms seriously. Especially, if something like this happens after a stressful event like death in the family or a heated argument.
Anger, loneliness and depression
There is no doubt your emotions have significant effect on your heart. Managing your emotions will save your life.
Cardiac psychology is receiving attention from experts as a new emotion-based approach to heart health. It is important to treat the mind to improve the heart with a particular emphasis on achieving optimal quality of life outcomes.
There are many things you can do at home to take care of your heart and mind. When you feel angry, shut your eyes and meditate for a few minutes or go for a walk. Follow these five principals:
- Avoid loneliness.
- Enjoy life and find humour around you.
- Follow Mediterranean diet. Generally considered to be world’s healthiest diet.
- Keep moving – motion is lotion. Exercise regularly.
- Have a positive outlook. Positive outlook equals longer healthy life.
Finally, I will quote what Dr. Ankul Kalra, MD said, “Self-care is extremely important when times are stressful.”
Managing your emotions will save your life.
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