Ever heard of the ‘broken heart syndrome’? Here’s how damaging it can be


Grief is a strong emotion, but it is an eventuality of stress. In fact, most negative emotions are expressed when a person is said to be stressed. Stress has, unfortunately, permeated our lives, and it creates instances which put us down emotionally, physically and mentally, causing the release of stress hormone cortisol, along with adrenaline, which has the tendency of influencing the blood pressure, sleep patterns, blood sugar levels and heart rate.

Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, also known as the ‘broken heart syndrome’, is a heart condition that can result from an acute, severe form of stress. “Stress differs from person-to-person and it has its own kinds like acute, episodic acute stress and chronic stress. These variations are classified based on their characteristics, signs, symptoms, duration and treatment approaches. Stress is not always considered as a bad thing, it is usually our response to everyday work. The right amount of stress motivates a person to be alert. Too much stress can be harmful and can make one feel tense, anxious and can even cause some serious illnesses,” explains Dr Rajpal Singh, Director-Interventional Cardiology, Fortis La Femme Hospital, Richmond Road, Bengaluru.

He goes on to talk about the several parameter stress can be classified into:

Acute stress: One of the most common types, acute stress is one with frequent presentation and occurs for a brief period. It mainly occurs due to overthinking, negative thoughts over any events or demands in the near future. These can be identified by three different problems like transient emotional distress, headache, neck pain, sometimes transient stomach, gut and bowel problems, heartburn, acid stomach, flatulence, diarrhea, constipation.

Episodic acute stress: In this type, a person often presents frequent triggers of acute stress. People who frequently suffer acute stress often live a life of chaos and crisis. Their emotions are totally pressured and unorganised. This type of stress can be found in two different personalities — type A personality and the worrier personality.

Type A personality is when acute stress is found to be frequent; the person is aggressive, impatience, and has a sense of time urgency. These symptoms also lead to a heart condition called coronary heart disease. The worrier type are the people who worry a lot and tend to have negative thoughts about everything.

Chronic stress: The severe, long-lasting, harmful type of stress, where the community can suffer either because of their aversive experiences in childhood or a traumatic experience in their life.

broken heart syndrome, heart health, stress, stress and heart health, acute stress, stress and health, managing stress, healthy heart, indian express news When a person is stressed, the amygdala signals the bone marrow to produce more white blood cells. This causes the arteries to become inflamed, which can lead to heart attacks. (Photo: Getty Images/Thinkstock)

What is Takotsubo cardiomyopathy?

It is the weakening of the heart’s main chamber, the left ventricle. It is usually caused due to severe emotional or physical stress.
● The unexpected loss of a loved one
● A sudden accident
● Sudden drop in the blood pressure
● Intense fear
● Fierce argument

“Heart and stress levels are interconnected. When a person is stressed, the amygdala (area of the brain that deals with stress) signals the bone marrow to produce more white blood cells. This causes the arteries to become inflamed, which can lead to heart attacks, strokes and angina (a type of chest pain caused due to reduced blood flow to the heart). Broken heart syndrome is such a cardiovascular disease, result of acute, or severe forms of stress,” the doctor explains.

Simple ways to manage stress:

Staying positive: A good laugh can help the heart; laughter lowers levels of stress hormones, reduces inflammation in the arteries.
Exercise: Every time the body is physically active, it releases mood-boosting chemicals called endorphins. Exercising protects against heart diseases by lowering blood pressure and strengthening the heart muscles.
Avoid binge-eating: During stress, people often tend to binge-eat which may lead to conditions like diabetes and hypertension. Include nutrients and antioxidants like salmon, avocado, asparagus, and dark chocolate to your diet.

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