Have you ever heard of “broken-heart syndrome?” Well, Dr. Ian Wittstein, a cardiologist and assistant professor of John Hopkins University, created the phrase to describe patients that presented with heart attack symptoms. Only, one odd but fortunate fact for these patients was that they did not have any injuries to their hearts.
They consistently had no problems with their #arteries, no blockages, no heart damage.
In the first woman where he noticed this, her heart took on an odd shape, squeezing well on the bottom, but not on the top. Normally patients don’t recover so quickly, but she did. Her heart muscle had no damage, injury, or cells that had died off.
Soon, he found other patients that recovered within days too. Each had different #emotional shocks in their lives that brought on what they thought was a heart attack.
Often, the #stressful event was something happy, like a surprise birthday party.
He hadn’t seen any American studies or #literature on reactions of a cardiac reaction to emotionally stressful events.
But, he found a small number of Japanese studies describing a similar heart condition and they called it #takotsubo, or “octopus trap”, due to the shape the heart takes on during these events.
Through his studies, Wittstein and his colleagues postulated that when people are in the midst of emotional #trauma their bodies release large amounts of adrenaline and that stuns the heart and may cause the heart muscle to be dysfunctional for a time, and if it is “broken-heart syndrome”, they will not suffer permanent injury.
Scientists are still trying to figure out what the adrenaline #rushes are doing to the heart. They figure it either weakens the heart cells, causing the heart to become dysfunctional for a short period of time, or it affects the little blood vessels around the heart.
This would keep blood from being carried to the heart the way it should. Now researchers wonder who is at risk and if genetic factors are coming into play.
Wittstein suggests that people get supportive help to treat the emotional triggers that caused “broken-heart syndrome”.