Broken Heart Syndrome Can Be Fatal For Adult Women Spending Valentine's Day Alone

By Staff Reporter on February 14, 2013 5:10 PM EST

broken heart syndrom
Broken heart syndrome causes heart attack-like symptoms (Photo: Creative Commons)

Valentine's Day is the most romantic day of the year as couples celebrate their love with baskets of chocolate, flower bouquets, and fancy dinners. However, for the single adults that are going to spend the day alone, Valentine's day might as well be the saddest day of all.

According to a study conducted by Japanese doctors during the 1990s, severe emotional trauma can trigger sudden heart failure with deadly symptoms that closely resemble a heart attack. The Japanese call the condition "Takotsubo cardiomyopathy" or "stress cardiomyopathy." Given the heightened emotions during Valentine's Day for forlorn souls, it is especially important now to take precaution against the rare condition.

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Beating 100,000 times a day, the heart is the strongest muscle inside a human. However, the heart is apparently the most sensitive organ to chemical and emotional imbalances as well. Under extreme emotional stress, the heart may experience a sudden and temporary weakening of the muscle that can result to severe medical distress.

According to studies, the condition is extremely rare and is almost exclusive to postmenopausal women. While the secret behind the elevated risks for middle-aged women are unknown, scientists believe the likeliest reason lies in hormone levels.

Given the rarity of the disease, approximately two percent of all individuals diagnosed with a heart attack are actually suffering from broken heart syndrome. However, despite the similar symptoms shared between a heart attack and broken heart syndrome, the mechanics of the two illnesses are actually very different.  A heart attack occurs when the heart muscle seizes, cutting off oxygen from the blood supply. In broken heart syndrome, a surge of hormones impair the heart muscle's ability to continue pumping.

Finally, emotionally distressed individuals will be relieved to learn that broken heart syndrome is rarely fatal. Unlike a heart attack, most people make a full recovery.

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