“Hearts will never be made practical until they are made unbreakable”~Tin-man (Wizard of Oz)
Isn’t it ironic that National Heart Month and Valentine’s Day both are in February?
As we enter this month many of us plan on how to celebrate romance with our special loved ones. Valentines Day ushers in flowers, chocolate, sentimental cards, teddy bears with hearts and…..a trip to the hospital? Huh?
Yes, the experience of joy and bliss that love brings cannot exist without it’s polar companion of pain and grief. Hello broken heart! For all of us who have lived and loved we are all too familiar with the agony of getting dumped. While some heartbreaks only feel like a sting other heartbreaks feel like we are literally dying.
While most of us uview heartbreak as a metaphor, it may be of surprise to learn we can actually die from a broken heart!
Broken Heart Syndrome ( also called stress-induced cardiomyopathy) can trigger a brief weakening of the heart muscle when an individual experiences acute and heightened amount of stress. Acute stress response causes changes in the brain’s blood flow to occur. Negative emotional experiences activate the brain region anterior cingulate (ACC) cortices and it becomes more active during these times.
This elevated activity can generate a surge of stress hormones, such as adrenaline and can be sent to the heart during a painful event, which in turn narrows the arteries that supply blood to the organ. In Broken Heart Syndrome, there’s a brief disruption of your heart’s regular pumping function, while the remainder of the heart operates normally.
What are the most common signs and symptoms of a broken heart syndrome?
- angina (chest pain)
- shortness of breath
These symptoms can be experienced even if you have no history of heart disease. Symptoms manifest abruptly after intense emotional or physical stress.
People with broken heart syndrome may experience these symptoms and think they’re having a heart attack. It’s important to seek medical treatment if you experience these symptoms.
While these are common symptoms of BHS and heart attacks there are differences too. The differences between Broken Heart Syndrome and a Heart Attack :
• EKG (a test that records the heart’s electric activity) results don’t look the same as the EKG results for a person having a heart attack.
• Blood tests show no signs of heart damage.
• Tests show no signs of blockages in the coronary arteries.
• Tests show ballooning and unusual movement of the lower left heart chamber (left ventricle).
Of course only a trained physician can conduct the test necessary to rule out a heart attack. Medical experts report that BHS improves very quickly and with proper diagnosis and management, even the most severe cases are likely to make a quick and complete recovery.