Most of us have suffered from a broken heart at some point in our lives. Is it just an emotional expression of love gone wrong…or is a broken heart a bonafide medical condition?
Loyola University Health System cardiologist Dr. Binh An P. Phan says that broken heart syndrome is a very real medical condition. It occurs during highly stressful or emotional periods like a broken romance, death of a loved one, loss of a job, or intense anger.
The medical term for it is “stress cardiomyopathy.” Symptoms are very similar to the symptoms of a heart attack and include chest pain and breathing difficulty. During highly stressful events, adrenalin and other stress hormones can surge and overwhelm the heart, causing narrowing of the arteries that supply blood to the heart.
Fortunately, broken heart syndrome usually goes away over time, leaving no lasting damage to the heart.
“Most people will get better in a few weeks without medical treatment,” said Phan in a press release.
Because the symptoms of broken heart syndrome and heart attack are so similar, people with heart attack symptoms should call 9-1-1 rather than assume anything, advises Phan, who is director of Loyola’s new Preventive Cardiology and Lipid Program.