(862) 203-4648 | Contact Us | FAQ

Home What is broken heart syndrome and why are some people more vulnerable to it?

What is broken heart syndrome and why are some people more vulnerable to it?

What is broken heart syndrome and why are some people more vulnerable to it (1).png

The American Institute of Stress in a recent survey says that stress in the US has progressed quickly in the past decade. Stress, according to their respondents, is perceiving that one has little control, and there is a lot of pressure.  

In addition, the survey paints a picture of job-related stress as the number one source of stress with 40% of respondents saying their job was very or extremely stressful. The severity of perceived stress increases as the demands to a person’s feeling of control or decision-making also increases.

What does stress do to our heart? 

Stress, as a daily and natural occurrence, is the state of being worried and experiencing mental tension because of a perceived difficult event. We might feel anxiety over our situation. This heavy feeling lingers, making us frustrated, angry, or any of the difficult feelings. 

According to science experts, stress is often underestimated as a risk factor for developing heart disease, but many of them believe that stress is a major risk factor for heart disease. 

In a 2024 survey in the US, only almost half of the respondents (49%) know that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the US, despite it being the number 1 cause of death in the US for over a century.

Meanwhile, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that almost half of the women in the US (41%) are living with a type of heart disease.

Stress and broken heart syndrome

People who have experienced broken heart syndrome might live in fear that it might recur. They might also lose confidence in their ability to live normal lives. 

What is broken heart syndrome? Compared to more serious and well-known heart conditions like heart failure and coronary artery disease, broken heart syndrome is a temporary and a lesser-known heart condition that is primarily characterized by weakness and swelling of the left ventricle of the heart. Since this area is the main muscle that pumps blood, its enlargement and change in shape cause the pump to weaken and the blood circulation to be affected.

Its official name is takotsubo cardiomyopathy, named after the shape of the left ventricle that resembles an old-fashioned jar-like container that served as  an octopus trap in olden days. 

The first cases of takotsubo cardiomyopathy was observed in Japan in 1990, when researchers observed that severe stress during sudden sickness, loss of a significant other, a serious event, or a natural disaster caused myocardial infarction-like symptoms in some people in Japan.

Who is commonly affected by broken heart syndrome? 

Analyzing studies of broken heart syndrome, researchers noted that 9 out of 10 cases of the heart disease happen in women aged 58 to 75 years old. This makes researchers propose the possibility that some women who presented symptoms of heart attack actually had takotsubo cardiomyopathy.

There is no definitive cause for it, but there is strong support to the idea that a sudden surge of stress hormones temporarily make negative changes to the structure and function of the heart making it less effective in pumping blood. Here are some triggers of broken heart syndrome. 

  • Sudden decrease in blood pressure, or pain, serious medical events, asthma
  • Experiencing domestic violence, car accident
  • Receiving negative news, unexpected passing away of a significant other
  • Financial loss
  • Experiencing sudden surprise

Decreasing heart disease risk

Though the effects of broken heart syndrome is temporary and it is a less serious condition, it is still important that you have yourself checked by medical professionals when cardiac symptoms occur, so that a proper diagnosis be made and the appropriate treatment is given. 

Stress management techniques can also be used to reduce the effects of stress on the heart. This includes relaxation techniques, cognitive behavioral therapy by licensed mental health professionals, and better self-care measures that take care of the body and the mind such as eating healthy and balanced meals and exercising.

Since broken heart syndrome usually affects some people more than others, it is crucial for us to listen to our bodies. Our body will tell us if it needs rest, or more care. Let’s listen to it and enjoy health and mental wellbeing too! 

Discover how a job board can help you browse through hundreds of healthcare job opportunities across the US and find the one that suits you best! 

What is broken heart syndrome and why are some people more vulnerable to it?
Brandon Resasco