Cases of ‘broken heart syndrome’ on the rise

4 Your Health

INDIANAPOLIS — Most of us are familiar with the concept of a broken heart, but did you know it’s an actual medical diagnosis? Not only that, doctors across the country are also reporting seeing more patients with “broken heart syndrome,” according to new research in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Broken heart syndrome, also known as stress cardiomyopathy or Takotsubo syndrome , is a temporary heart condition that often mimics the symptoms of a heart attack. In rare cases, Broken heart syndrome can be fatal.

The condition is brought on by extreme physical or emotional stress and typically occurs in older women. However recent studies have shown increases in men and women across various age ranges.

Kyle Frick, a cardiologist at IU Health, says he’s also seeing an uptick in people with the condition.

“It does seem like we’re taking care of more and more patients with stress cardiomyopathy over the last few years. When you see stuff like this you have to wonder if it’s because were recognizing the disease better, and so we’re catching more people that have it, or is it because we’re making the diagnosis more. But it’s probably more than that it’s probably is just increase incidence of the disease related to our aging population and kind of the stress and things that people are going through,” Frick said.

Typically, broken heart syndrome is treatable with a beta blocker regimen and resolves within days to weeks. The difficulty with broken heart syndrome, however, is being able to diagnose the condition due to how similar it presents to a heart attack. While it isn’t exactly clear how to prevent the condition, Dr. Frick says a little “de-stressing” might go a long way.

“We don’t really know how to prevent stress cardiomyopathy or broken heart syndrome, but probably taking care of your entire emotional well-being would be helpful. And typically, this happens and people who have no other cardiovascular disease and if it’s in acutely like a heart attack would, so there will be no other warning for something like this,”

Researchers have also noted a rise of broken heart syndrome during the pandemic.

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