If you haven’t heard of it, broken heart syndrome is real. And a new study suggests that cases are on the rise, particularly in middle-aged women.
Although cases were up across the board, researchers found that women make up over 88 percent of cases and that women between 50 and 75 experienced broken heart syndrome at six to 12 times greater frequency than other demographics.
Broken heart syndrome is a life-threatening condition with symptoms that mimic a heart attack. It is also known as Takotsuba cardiomyopathy, and has been studied in Japan for decades. It was not well known internationally until 2005.
It is believed to be triggered by physical or emotional stress. When it happens, it leads to the heart’s main pumping chamber to temporarily enlarge or pump poorly. It can result in shortness of breath and other symptoms to similar to a heart attack.
If this intitial phase is survived, it can take days or weeks to recover and the long-term impact is unknown.
Researchers believe that the uptick in women could be the result of the end of menopause or an increase in overall stress.
In any event, this new data suggests the importance of monitoring mental health to potentially prevent physical ailments. With overwhelming support for the theory that broken heart syndrome is stress related, keeping tabs on mental health could keep people out of the emergency room.
Of course the pandemic has added to people’s stress levels, but that is not the only stressor. Abusive relationships, advanced age, retirement, or any other number of issues can lead to stress and anxiety that might sour a cardiovascular event.
If you’re feeling added stress, consider talking to your doctor. They can offer a mental health screening to asses risk and recommend coping mechanisms.
You can also try your hand at various activities shown to mitigate stress, such as yoga, meditation, exercise, healthy eating, good sleep, and building/maintaining strong social relationships.