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Broken Heart Syndrome


Disease: Broken Heart Syndrome Broken Heart Syndrome
Category: Cardiovascular diseases
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Disease Definition:

Stressful situations, such as the death of a loved one may bring on a temporary heart condition known as broken heart syndrome. This condition causes sudden chest pain, making the person think that they’re having a heart attack. The rush of stress hormones causes the symptoms of this condition. Broken heart syndrome causes cardiomyopathy, which is the temporary enlargement of a part of the heart.

This condition is also called takotsubo cardiomyopathy, apical ballooning syndrome, stress-induced cardiomyopathy and stress cardiomyopathy.

Takotsubo is a sort of a pot that is used in capturing octopuses. This condition was first discovered by Japanese doctors who called it takotsubo cardiomyopathy, because the X-ray images of a person who is experiencing broken heart syndrome resembles this pot.
This condition is treatable and its recovery time is about a week.

Work Group:

Prepared by: Scientific Section

Symptoms, Causes


Chest pain and shortness of breath are the common symptoms of broken heart syndrome, which resemble those of a heart attack. Generally, chest pain should be taken seriously because if it is persistent or long-lasting, it may be a sign of a heart attack.

Emergency medical assistance should be sought immediately when a person experiences shortness of breath or chest pain after a stressful situation.


In some cases, the heart may be damaged by a brief surge of stress hormones, such as adrenaline. However, the exact cause of broken heart syndrome is still not known.
Losing a lot of money, a car accident, receiving news of an unexpected death of a dear person, an asthma attack, major surgery, domestic abuse and a frightening diagnosis are some of the physical or emotional situations that have preceded a broken heart syndrome.


Usually when a blood clot that forms at the site of narrowing from fatty buildup (atherosclerosis) it causes the complete blockage of a heart artery resulting in a heart attack. While in broken heart syndrome, despite the fact that the blood flow in the arteries may be reduced, the arteries won’t be blocked.
It has been estimated that about 9 out of 10 cases of broken heart syndrome have occurred in women who are 50 years or older.



Broken heart syndrome may be fatal only in some rare cases. Most people don’t have long-lasting effects and recover quickly.

Some of the complications that broken heart syndrome may cause include:

  • A fast or slow heartbeat
  • Disruptions in the heartbeat
  • Pulmonary edema, which is the backing up of fluid into the lungs

Broken heart syndrome can recur if the person experiences another stressful situation.


Initially, broken heart syndrome will be treated like a heart attack, until the diagnosis is clear. However, this condition doesn’t have a specific therapy, and most people stay about a week in the hospital till they recover.

While the patient is in the hospital, they will be prescribed blood pressure medications, such as diuretics, ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme) inhibitors or beta blockers, because these medications help in reducing the workload on the heart until the person recovers. After recovery, medications are usually discontinued.

Broken heart syndrome can’t be treated with procedures that usually treat a heart attack, such as stent replacement and coronary angioplasty, because these procedures treat blocked arteries.


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