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Feb 14, 2013

Healthy Living’s broken heart episode

We’ve heard in sad love songs. We’ve seen in dramatized in movies. We’ve even heard anecdotes of someone who knew someone who died of a broken heart. While many of us can identify with the real-life heartache of losing a loved one or love loss, it seems incomprehensible that this very common obstacle in life can lead to death. This week in Healthy Living, we looked for some answers from one medical professional, to finally find out: Is it true that you can die of a broken heart?

 

Dr. Fernando Cuellar, Internal Medicine, Intensivist

“There is indeed such a medical condition that is colloquially known as broken heart syndrome and there is even a medical terminology for it. But basically it is an injury to the heart usually seen after intense emotional stress.”

 

Marleni Cuellar, Reporting

Broken heart syndrome is a real medical condition. It is nothing close to the animation we usually see of a heart being broken and separated in two. Broken Heart syndrome is an actual heart failure where there is a problem or weakening of the heart muscle.

 

Dr. Fernando Cuellar

“It is cardiomyoptahy it is called. It has a Japanese title it’s called Takotsubo Syndrome and that comes because the heart adopts a shape of something that the Japanese use when they prepare octopus. It reminds them of that shape.”

 

Fernando Cuellar

The condition has just recently been classified in the early 1990’s; although it has been known to exist from long before. Whereas heart problems can develop for numerous reasons, this specific problem is tied to your emotions.

 

Dr. Fernando Cuellar

“What happen Marleni is that this usually presents itself as something sudden, something acute, where people would have actual heart attacks meaning that they would have chest pain they would have – if you do an EKG on them they would have the typical changes of a heart attack, there are heart enzymes measuring certain things in the blood showing if you have any heart damage, those would be elevated. When they do further tests they find that the coronary artery the blood vessels that supply the heart muscle with blood vessels is normal and that Is a strange usually people get heart attacks and conjunctive heart failure when those vessels are damaged over time are practically normal.”

 

So what would make seemingly normal blood vessels constrict and cause heart problems – emotional stress like grief and loss, fear, extreme anger, and surprise. Doctors are still working on understanding why some people suffer this extreme reaction.

Dr. Fernando Cuellar

“We suspect that with certain chemicals that are released in the body during emotional stress things like catecholamine with adrenalin which makes your blood vessel tighten up and heart rate go up and those kind of things. That is the working theory right now.  The symptoms are basically those of a heart attack, chest pain, shortness of breath, sensation that you’re dying, discomfort in the shoulder to the arm, it would resemble almost typically a heart attack but usually it is seen in person who are just recently or are experiencing emotional stress.”

 

Depression and panic attacks can also be triggered by extreme emotional stress but those are rooted in the mind, with broken heart syndrome there is an actual physical problem in your heart.

 

Dr. Fernando Cuellar

“It is really bad you can have fatalities you can die from a broken heart literally but thankfully if caught in time you can treat it very successfully and the serious thing about it is that unlike the heart attack caused by muscle damage, this one it gets better, it doesn’t leave any long lasting damage to the heart.”

 

Doctor Cuellar says that the first diagnosis is usually a heart attack, it is until further tests are done that takutsubo cardiomyopathy can be confirmed. So how do you tell someone that they are suffering from a broken heart?

 

Dr. Fernando Cuellar

“It’s usually met with laughter sometimes and disbelief. They say you can’t tell me my heart was broken, I’ve had a couple patients; I have one in mind particularly who realized well. That she was going through quite a bit of emotional stress and brought on the heart attack.”

 

This type of heart failure is reversible. Treatment methods are administered by the physician and counseling is suggested to deal with the emotional stress. So, the good news to this story is:

 

Dr. Fernando Cuellar

“If you break a heart, you can fix it.”

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2 Responses for “Healthy Living’s broken heart episode”

  1. EZ Deh. says:

    definately adding this one to my book.
    Macoby,’The International Handbook on Love Sickness.
    This one is acute thing indeed. A cute way to die. Bam yu ded! Heart Bruk.
    Mien, this is rough. Many have died of this and we didn’t even know it, Just ruled as heart attack.

  2. not again says:

    I suffer from this.

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