Broken hearts

By • Published: February 6th, 2012
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Most people have one time or another experienced the emotional stress of a broken heart after losing a loved one through divorce, breakup or even death. But the emotional pain of a broken heart can also lead to real heart problems.

Doctors call this rare condition Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, or broken heart syndrome. For some people, the flood of stress hormones can weaken heart muscle and produce heart attack symptoms like chest pain, shortness of breath and low blood pressure. But in rare cases, broken heart syndrome can prove to be fatal.

Now, researchers have discovered women are more likely than men to suffer from this stress-induced condition.

After studying patients diagnosed with broken heart syndrome from around 1,000 hospitals, researchers found that women are seven-and-a-half times more likely to suffer from this rare condition.

The study findings also report that older women living in their golden years are at greatest risk for broken heart syndrome. Women over the age of 55 were almost three times more likely to suffer from this condition than their younger counterparts.

The news isn’t much better for women under the age of 55. When compared to men, they were about 10 times more likely to develop the syndrome.

The good news is the symptoms of broken heart syndrome are usually temporary and don’t cause long-term damage to the heart. A small percentage of people diagnosed with the condition will suffer a second episode.

Broken heart syndrome is the only cardiac condition with such a discrepancy in female versus male sufferers. Researchers think hormones play an important factor in the prevalence in women, but they don’t know for sure.

So don’t underestimate the power of heartbreak. Since a broken heart is usually only a temporary bump in the road, just remember, time heals all pain.