Dr. Imran Ali discusses Broken Heart Syndrome

(WTNH) — Broken Heart Syndrome is a very real health concern. Dr. Imran Ali of Bridgeport Hospital helps explain the causes and symptoms.

We all heard of having a broken heart in popular culture but is there really a broken heart condition and what causes it?

Broken Heart Syndrome is actually a phrase coined to describe what it is known as Takasubo Cardiomyopathy. It was found by a Japanese researcher in the 1990s that patients who underwent sudden emotional stresses had a ballooning of what we call the apical section of the heart  It would balloon out and look like an octopus capturing pot or a Takasubo. This is usually when we have asurge of hormones called catecholamines. These are like Norepinephrine or Epinephrine (Basically our flight or fight hormones that make our heart beat faster and blood pressure rise etc in times of stress). What happens in Broken Heart Syndrome is that the muscles here become stunned and weak almost like a stretched balloon.

So what kind of stress can cause this condition? Are there people at higher risk?

Women are at higher risk any anyone above the age of 50 according to he research done so far. So far the stress that causes the most cases is the recent death of a loved one which is why this often called Broken Heart Disease. Dr. Ali personally took care of a patient who just heard about her daughter’s passing and was bought to the ER with chest pain which raised our suspicion for Takasubo. This is a diagnosis that is definitively made when the cardiologist does an Echocardiogram or a Ventriculogram. The disease is very poorly understood but we think it is likely an action directly on the cardiac muscle. Patients have clean coronary arteries so anyone can be essentially at risk. The recovery is
good after 4-5 weeks once who work with a Cardiologist on managing a period where this part the Left Ventricle is weaker.

What can we do to prevent Takasubo’s Cardiomyopathy or Broken Heart Syndrome?

To prevent it we have to stress on having a healthy heart to begin with that can withstand stress, and you can do this by stopping smoking, keep your blood pressure in check and watch your diabetes. Also reducing stress overall and having a good support group when you have the loss of a loved one is crucial in reducing stress.

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