Updated 02/14/2012 10:31 PM
Broken heart syndrome study
Could a broken heart cause a heart attack? A new study suggests it's a serious possibility. Our Elyse Mickalonis has more on the study's results and what doctors say you should look out for.
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UNITED STATES -- So heartbroken you actually feel pain in your heart? Well, a recent study published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, proves that heartache can actually cause a heart attack.
"Broken Heart Syndrome is a syndrome that occurs under severe emotional or physical stress,” said Pamela Stewart Fahs, RN, DSN, BU Professor of Nursing. “It was originally discovered in Japan. But we've found that two percent in cardiac deaths that occur, we see this sudden emotional or physical trauma."
The study found that a person’s heart attack risk is 21 times higher than normal the day after a loved one dies. And if you're a woman, you're 7.5 times more likely to develop broken heart syndrome than men.
"Typically it occurs in post menopausal women. The average age is about 60,” said Fahs. “Women come into the emergency room with the typical chest pain, chest discomfort and maybe a shortness of breath and their cardiac enzyme count will be increased, indicative of a heart attack, but what they find is they're not seeing a blockage of the heart vessel, but the left ventricle of the heart is enlarged."
Symptoms of a heart attack vary from women to men, but experts say it's important to pay attention to what your body is telling you, no matter what.
"Anybody that has chest pain, chest discomfort really should call 911,” said Fahs. “Particularly with woman and the female symptoms of heart disease, we know it's not the typical crushing pain men might experience. With this syndrome it is chest discomfort, building into a chest pain and a shortness of breath."
If you've lost someone and truly feel heartsick, doctors say, don't always brush it off.