Suffering from a “broken heart” is more than just a figure of speech - it’s actually a medical condition that can have very serious consequences.
Broken heart syndrome is also known as takotsubo cardiomyopathy. It is a rare heart condition that is often triggered by stressful situations, extreme emotions or serious physical illness.
“Broken heart syndrome is essentially a weakening of the left ventricle, the heart’s main pumping chamber, and brought on as a result of severe emotional stress such as the loss of a loved one, sudden illness or accidents,” Professor Markus Schlaich explains.
Common symptoms include sudden chest pain, shortness of breath and nausea. People experiencing broken heart syndrome might think they are having a heart attack.
The syndrome most commonly affects post-menopausal women aged between 58 and 75 years. Whilst most people recover quickly from broken heart syndrome, in some rare cases it can be fatal.
Professor Schlaich is leading research efforts at the Royal Perth Hospital to try and pinpoint exactly why the body can have such an extreme physical response to intense emotional events.
“What we’re doing is a study to investigate the exact mechanism that causes the syndrome, which hopefully will help us to tailor better therapies and improve outcomes for patients,” Professor Schlaich said.
Professor Schlaich furthermore gave an interview on Sunrise to explain broken heart syndrome to a wider audience. If you would like to watch the video segment, please click on this link.