A “broken heart” is actually a thing — one that can strike even if you’re healthy.
The medical condition is officially known as takotsubo cardiomyopathy. It is thought to be brought on by acute stress heart, which makes the heart suddenly weakened. The left ventricle, one of the heart’s chambers, changes shape and enlarges.
As a result this part of the heart doesn’t pump well. Result: Chest pains and breathlessness and the feeling like you’re having a coronary.
“Patients come in with symptoms similar to a heart attack, but do not have the typical blocked arteries that we see with a heart attack,” a Georgia cardiologist Joseph Poole told the Athens Banner-Herald.
“However, their hearts did ‘balloon’ out and look like a big, round ball,” he added.
Tako tsubo are octopus traps that resemble the pot-like shape of the stricken heart, the American Heart Association notes.
The ailment can develop at any age, but typically affects more women than men. Broken heart syndrome, which can be fatal in rare instances, is usually treatable. Most people who experience it make a full recovery within weeks, and they’re at low risk for it happening again.
“There is a lot of debate about what actually causes this syndrome and we still don’t really know what causes it,” Poole said. “Most people believe it is a ‘stunning’ of the heart from too much adrenaline.”
Triggers could include the death of a loved one or even a divorce, breakup or physical separation, betrayal or romantic rejection. It could even happen after a good shock — like winning the lottery.