Broken Heart Syndrome, also known as Stress Cardiomyopathy or Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy is a syndrome characterized by transient regional weakening and enlargement of the main pumping chamber of the heart. Patients experience chest pain and shortness of breath, mimicking a heart attack, but in the absence of angiographic evidence of obstructive coronary artery disease or acute plaque rupture. The syndrome is triggered by physical and emotional stress. It was first described in Japan in 1990, is much more common in women than men and occurs predominantly in older adults. A study published in the American Heart Association Journal on October 13th of 2021, showed that the incidence of broken heart syndrome is increasing. Researchers examined 135 thousand cases of broken heart syndrome in US hospitals from 2006 to 2017 and they found a steady annual increase among both women and men, with women making up 88.3% of the cases. These skyrocketing rates are both intriguing and concerning
If the patient survives the initial phase of the disease, he or she often can recover in days or weeks. Despite apparent recovery of heart muscle function, some studies show people who have had broken heart syndrome are at heightened risk for future cardiovascular events.
As we advance in age and take on more life and work responsibilities, we experience higher stress levels. This study emphasized the mind-heart-body connection and the clear associations between psychological health and cardiovascular disease risk. This study serves as a reminder that everyone needs be proactive about their mental health, especially those with cardiovascular risks. We can't avoid all stress in life, but it is important for patients to develop healthy coping mechanisms. Some strategies include mindfulness meditation, exercise, eating healthy, getting adequate sleep and cultivating social relationships for support systems.