Upper West Side Location Now Open!
Manhattan Cardiology

What Is Broken Heart Syndrome?

Broken heart syndrome is a heart condition that is often triggered by a stressful situation, such as the unexpected death of a loved one. If you have broken heart syndrome you may experience the feeling of sudden chest pain or think you are having a heart attack. The heart’s reaction to a surge of stress hormones causes a temporary disruption of your heart’s normal pumping function in one area of the heart. The rest of the heart functions normally or may contract more forcefully. Broken heart syndrome is treatable, and the condition usually goes away on itself in days or weeks.


What Are The Causes Of Broken Heart Syndrome?

The causes of broken heart syndrome are unknown but a surge of stress hormones could be harmful and could possibly damage the heats of certain people. Broken heart syndrome is often triggered by an overwhelming emotional or physical event. Some triggers of broken heart syndrome are:

  • News of the unexpected death of a loved one
  • A frightening medical diagnosis
  • Domestic abuse
  • Strong arguments
  • A surprise party
  • Having to perform publicly
  • Job loss
  • Divorce
  • Physical stressors like surgery or motor vehicle accident


What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of A Broken Heart?

Some of the main indicators of takotsubo cardiomyopathy:

  • Angina (sudden, severe chest pain)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Arrhythmia (irregular beating of the heart)
  • Cardiogenic shock (An inability to pump enough blood that the body needs)
  • Fainting
  • Low blood pressure
  • Heart failure


What Are The Risk Factors Of Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy?

Asian and Caucasian postmenopausal women are more susceptible to Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy. It is often a person has shown no sign of heart disease and seems to be healthy.


How Is Broken Heart Syndrome Diagnosed?

Electrocardiogram (ECG): An ECG records electrical signals and detects the irregularities in your heart.
Echocardiogram: An echocardiogram sees if your heart is enlarged or has an abnormal shape.
Blood tests: To determine if there is an increased amount of certain enzymes in their blood
Chest X-ray: To see if your heart is enlarged or has the shape of Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy
Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): This produces a more detailed picture than an x-ray which will help your doctor evaluate your condition.
Coronary angiogram: An in-depth look at your blood vessels


Are There Preventative Steps Or Measures To Avoid Stress Cardiomyopathy?

  1. Know that you are experiencing pain.
  2. Accept that you will grieve
  3. Understand your grieving process may be different than others.
  4. Find a caring support group. (family, friends, etc.)
  5. Take care of your physical self, this will help you emotionally.
  6. Know the difference between grief and depression.

Meet Manhattan Cardiology

Mary Greene, MD is a cardiologist who specializes in Coronary and Peripheral Vascular Procedures, Echocardiography and Nuclear Cardiology, and Cardiovascular Disease Medicine. She is board-certified in Internal Medicine, Cardiovascular Disease, Echocardiography, Nuclear Cardiography, and RPVI. After completing her undergraduate degree in biochemistry at SUNY Binghamton,... Learn More »