Whenever a person goes through painful events like losing a loved one or ending relationships with their partners, they go through overwhelming distress which causes changes in their emotions, and in some cases, it changes their lifestyle too. This ‘overwhelming distress’ is termed as ‘going through a heartbreak’ ‘Heartbreaks’ are a part of our life. Every person goes through this phase at some point. They should be seen from a positive perspective since it gives you a chance to not repeat the mistakes you committed. Even though some people can speed past this process, some get stuck to it. These people face adverse health conditions which can have painful repercussions. Initially, there were are a lot of misconceptions about this phase. People used to think that heartbreaks ‘ are just a phase that withers as time passes.’ But this is not true. You can face a lot of health issues if you are going through distress or a ‘heartbreak.’ This is termed as a medical condition known as ‘Broken heart syndrome’
Broken heart syndrome is a medical condition that can cause heart failure temporarily. In individuals with this condition, extreme physical or emotional distress(for example extreme pain, illness, ailment, or surgery) can cause issues in the heart muscle. Symptoms of this condition are similar to those of a serious heart ailment and may incorporate unexpected chest pain, difficulty in breathing, and irregular heart palpitations. The reason for the broken heart condition has not been completely diagnosed. A few specialists suggest that the syndrome may occur due to extreme emotional alternations which can adversely affect the heart. Broken heart syndrome is also known as Tako-tsubo cardiomyopathy or Tako-tsubo syndrome which can be treated if diagnosed on time.
Causes and Symptoms
Even though some doctors have not been able to hunt the real cause of this syndrome, some specialists have this theory that when a person goes through intense emotions like anger, stress, sadness, depression, fear, our body releases hormones like adrenaline, cortisol, noradrenaline in response to these emotions from the neuroendocrine system. The sympathetic system activates the fight-or-flight response by releasing adrenaline into the body. This hormone makes your heart beat faster since the nervous system is also providing oxygen to other parts of the body like tissues, brain, lungs. This increases blood pressure and blood sugar levels by converting glycogen in the liver to glucose to provide energy to your body. Even though during stressful situations it can be useful, broken heart syndrome is caused due to prolonged exposure stress, and negative feelings. Stressful situations can curb the normal functioning of the heart but continued exposure to negative emotions can temporarily curb the normal functioning because the left ventricle of the heart stops pumping blood. Overworking of the sympathetic nervous system can restrict blood pumping to the heart which can cause heart failure. Symptoms of broken heart syndrome or tako-tsubo syndrome include shortness of breath, intense chest pain, fatigue, low blood pressure. All of these symptoms occur because the body has been overworked due to continuous exposure to sadness, fear, and other intense emotions like these. Hormones like adrenaline do support the body when the sympathetic nervous system is activated but overuse of this hormone can poorly affect the heart.
Trigger Point – Broken heart syndrome is triggered by emotional events whether they are positive or negative since intense emotions can also cause an adrenaline rush in the body. In some cases, drugs like cocaine can also trigger broken heart syndrome since these drugs can activate stress-related hormones.
Treatment and precautions
Treatment of this syndrome is somewhat similar to the medications provided for coronary heart diseases even though both are different conditions. Medications like beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors, and some anticoagulants are given to these patients since these can help bring blood pressure to a normal rate and reduce heart rate. All of these can prevent heart stroke to an extent. If you or someone whom you know are suffering from this syndrome, you or they should take immediate help because if delayed, it will become very difficult to detect the cause. After all, if a surgeon tries detecting the heart’s activity through an electrocardiogram, it might not be able to detect the heart’s abnormality.
NOTE :- Broken heart syndrome should not be confused with other heart diseases because both are caused due to different reasons. While coronary heart disease is caused due to cholesterol deposits in the coronary artery walls which restrict blood flow from the body to the heart, broken heart syndrome is caused due to prolonged exposure to intense emotions and stress that lowers the function of the heart’s left ventricle to pump blood to it.
Additionally, people with broken heart syndrome who are suffering from anxiety, depression, and immense distress should try reaching out to people and strengthen their social networks for social support. This can generate positive emotions in them and may activate the parasympathetic nervous system to help the body rest.