Yes, you can die of a Broken Heart

It is the month of coming together of hearts. While love is in the air for some, there are an unfortunate few who run the risk of dying because of a broken heart. Broken heart syndrome is an extreme heart condition that often occurs due to stressful situations and extreme emotions. Broken heart syndrome affects just part of the heart, temporarily disrupting your heart’s normal pumping function. The rest of the heart continues to function normally or may even have more forceful contractions.

“Broken heart syndrome is often triggered due to the loss of somebody close or other intense physical or emotional events, such as – domestic abuse, strong arguments etc. It can also be triggered by serious physical illness or surgeries”, said Dr K.M Mandana, Director-Department of Cardiothoracic & Vascular Surgery Fortis Hospital, Anandapur Kolkata.


It may also be called stress cardiomyopathy, takotsubo cardiomyopathy or apical ballooning syndrome.

The exact causes of broken heart syndrome is unclear, however its thought that a surge of stress hormones, such as adrenaline, might temporarily damage the hearts of some persons. A temporary constriction of the large or small arteries of the heart has been suspected to play a role.

The symptoms include broken heart syndrome can mimic a heart attack. Its common symptoms include – chest pain and shortness of breath. However, a persistent and long lasting chest pain could be a sign of a heart attack.

Broken heart syndrome or stress cardiomyopathy is most common in older women. However, it depends on the ability of the heart to handle stress. Hence it is often seen that men too get affected by broken heart syndrome.

It should be noted that broken heart syndrome is different from heart attack. Heart attacks are generally caused by a complete or near complete blockage of a heart artery. This blockage is due to a blood clot forming at the site of narrowing from fatty buildup (atherosclerosis) in the wall of the artery. In broken heart syndrome, the heart arteries are not blocked, although blood flow in the arteries of the heart may be reduced due to elastic nature of the arteries.

Dr K.M Mandana, Director-Department of Cardiothoracic & Vascular Surgery,Fortis Hospital, Anandapur Kolkata

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