Studies show that extreme stress and sadness can literally cause your heart to break.
A 2018 study conducted between the University of Edinburgh in the UK and the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia has confirmed that mental health issues like depression and anxiety (or highly stressful occasions such as public speaking) can increase your risk of heart attack, stroke and one rare but adverse event – the broken heart syndrome, which has similar symptoms to a heart attack.
While the broken heart syndrome is usually temporary, researchers have found that patients are at risk of subsequent heart problems and hospital readmissions.
What is broken heart syndrome
Broken heart syndrome, or Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, mainly affects females. The symptoms include chest pains and breathlessness. When your heart actually breaks, the left ventricle, which is the main pumping chamber, weakens and causes shortness of breath. Though the condition is reversible and transient, it can lead to more complications if not dealt with properly. The aftereffects can be as extreme as that of a heart attack.
From 2006 to 2012, the cases of broken heart syndrome in the United States multiplied over 20 times, from 300 to more than 6200. Though there are no reported numbers in Singapore, doctors have seen multiple cases locally too.
Thankfully, 95 per cent of patients recover within one to two months. Patients are treated using the same medication that congestive heart failure patients use. The medication helps to support and strengthen the heart.