What You Need to Know About Broken Heart SyndromeWhat You Need to Know About Broken Heart Syndrome

By Lauren Brown West-Rosenthal

It’s part of the human experience to feel, at some time in your life, that your heart is broken. From the death of a loved one to a devastating breakup to a major surgery or illness—that stress actually does weigh on you and more specifically, on your heart. Your heart is responsive to stress hormones like adrenaline, epinephrine, and cortisol, making your heart beat faster as your body’s system gears up to perform at a super-human level. And even if you have a healthy heart with no pre-existing conditions or problems, you’re still at risk for what is fittingly called "broken heart syndrome."

Symptoms include sudden chest pain or a heavy feeling like you’re having a heart attack. With broken heart syndrome, there's a temporary disruption of your heart's normal pumping function in one area of the heart. The remainder of the heart functions normally or with even more forceful contractions. The good news is the symptoms are treatable, and the condition usually reverses itself in days or weeks.

Now while it’s impossible to know when life may throw you curveballs and “break” your heart, you can be prepared, and more importantly, in control when it does occur. Upping your stress management skills can make a huge difference. When you feel anxious or overwhelmed, take a deep breath and visualize yourself in a state of calm and peace. Use essential oils or turn to yoga and meditation as a regular part of your routine, so it’s ready to calm you when needed. And fill your diet with fruits and veggies—a healthy diet can be key in taking off the edge.

This condition affects women far more often than men and usually, but not always, affects those older than 50. And, if you’ve previously suffered from anxiety or depression, you’re likely at a higher risk of broken heart syndrome.


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