"Broken Heart Syndrome" Is An Actual Thing, Says Somewhat Terrifying Study — But At Least It's Treatable

Have you ever proclaimed that the devastation from a breakup was going to lead you to your grave? It turns out dying from a broken heart is actually a real thing that can happen, according to research done in the Philippines. Dr. Leni Iboleon-Dy. Dr. Iboleon-Dy, who is the chair of the Philippine Heart Association Council on Women's Cardiovascular Health, has been examining this phenomenon in her latest study; she reported that research recently conducted at St. Luke's Medical Center in Quezon City examined people with "broken heart syndrome" — that is, what "dying from a broken heart" is called in the medical community.

This study was done by conducting MRI scans on these patients' hearts.“There are special tests to look at it…. When an angiogram is negative for blockage, we send them to cardiac MRI," Dr. Iboleon-Dy reported to the Philippine Daily Inquirer . What they found was that the heart of the patient who is experiencing broken hearted syndrome enlarges and can cause decreased blood flow. Doctors treat the syndrome much like they would treat a patient with a heart attack, according to the doctor. So, if you are feeling physical pain after experiencing an intense breakup, it might not all be in your head.

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Research teams from other countries have also studied this condition and report that experiencing intense emotions of grief and stress — feelings that often arise during a breakup — can actually cause physiological changes in the heart. It's part of what is known as the mind-body connection, which is the link between our mental and physical health.

The upside to this story is that the condition is treatable and reversible. In fact, most cases of broken heart syndrome are able to be reversed quickly after diagnoses. Patients are prescribed medications that increase blood flow, lower blood pressure, and lessen the chances of blood-clots forming.

An interesting twist to broken hearted syndrome is that it affects women more than it does men, with three percent of women who experience heart disease in the Philippines having experienced broken heart syndrome. When this syndrome was first discovered in the 1990's, Japaneses researchers found that those who suffered were mostly women whose hearts were physically enlarged. It was called Takotsubo heart disease, as the researchers noted that the women's enlarged hearts looked like Japanese fishing pots called Takotsubo's. It can be hard to differentiate this from a traditional heart attack though, as the symptoms and experience greatly resemble heart attacks, but are caused by emotional upheaval. If you've ever heard of someone young or who was in good health who had a sudden heart attack, perhaps they could have been experiencing broken heart disease.

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Dr. Iboleon-Dy also commented on the fatality of broken heart syndrome, which they do see cases of despite the success of treatments. “The condition may not be permanent but since it could weaken the heart muscle, it can cause heart failure," she told the Philippine Daily Inquirer. As always, if you're experiencing symptoms of a heart attack, make sure to get yourself to a doctor or hospital as soon as possible.

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