Broken heart can be fatal…but can be mended Medics…or friends.

By | March 27, 2009

While I was explaining my insomnia to Pete the Drum Scientist, I found some research that says losing my best friend may be dangerous to my health if I don’t take appropriate measures and spend time with other friends.  I may also need some aspirin?

Scientists have found it is possible to mend a broken heart.

US researchers studied 70 patients with “broken heart syndrome”, a recognised condition linked to stressful or emotional events.

All these patients recovered, most after being given aspirin or heart drugs, even though 20% were deemed critically ill.

The American Journal of Cardiology study says the condition is probably caused by a surge in stress hormones.

Broken heart syndrome, known medically as Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, was first described by Japanese researchers in the early 1990s.

Even though symptoms mimic those of a heart attack such as chest pain and shortness of breath, broken heart syndrome does appear to be temporary and completely reversible – if treated quickly.

… The researchers also discovered that, unlike heart attacks which tend to occur in winter, broken heart syndrome cases tend to occur in the spring and summer months.

… “Some believe it is simply a form of a heart attack that ‘aborts’ itself early and therefore doesn’t leave any permanent heart muscle damage. … However people do seem to make a full recovery.”

via BBC NEWS | Health | Medics ‘can mend a broken heart’.

I’ve definitely felt what seemed like real heart problems under strong stress, especially after major breakups, but workups at the ER and have always showed that my heart is good and strong. Treadmill tests show the same thing: strong as an ox. I’ve assumed that the heart twinges were just stomach acid, but the above suggests they may be temporary reactions of the heart muscle to stress hormones.

I’ve been taught that there is good stress and bad stress. Stress is the way that I get things done. I spend most of my days under pressure and if it is not external, then I “whip the llama” myself, pushing myself to fight, to do my best, berating myself for not living up to my potential.

“Grief and loss” stress seems different from “competition and achievement” stress because the former includes a component of resignation. You can’t get a loved one back, and you never will. … but you might win the next race if you train hard.

If you are dealing with grief stress, if you’ve had a loss of any kind, a friend, a lover, a pet, a relative … be sure to face the seriousness of it.

It is possible to die from a broken heart, mounting evidence shows.

A review of recent work, published in The Lancet, found that the risk of death increases by up to a fifth following bereavement.

Investigator Margaret Stroebe of Utrecht University, The Netherlands, said the psychological distress caused by the loss played a big part….

“This phenomenon has been recognized for some time. Loss of a close significant person such as a partner is a severe experience for the bereaved person who is left.

“On the positive side, there is good evidence indicating that the availability of personal support networks are a significant element in helping people who have been bereaved. …

via BBC NEWS | HEALTH | Proof broken hearts can be fatal

How to Heal

A balance is needed, even with grief. Face your feelings, but do not wallow. Don’t overwhelm yourself. Most scientific studies, according to a 2004 report by Kleenex, show no positive effects of crying.  While many people feel better after doing it, crying may suppress your immune system.  It seems more likely that crying is something we do to get what we really need: comforting interaction. So, now that you know that, skip the crying and go tell someone how you feel. Distances and gas prices can keep us isolated. Thus we have Skype, Twitter, Blogs and Facebook. If you are sad or lonely, give me a call. Everything will get better quickly when we get out in the sun, shoot some hoops, buy stuff, walk on the beach, play tennis … and so on.  If asprin doesn’t damage your stomach lining too badly, you might try that for a day or two too.

One thought on “Broken heart can be fatal…but can be mended Medics…or friends.

  1. James

    “A balance is needed, even with grief. Face your feelings, but do not wallow. Don’t overwhelm yourself. Most scientific studies, according to a 2004 report by Kleenex, show no positive effects of crying. While many people feel better after doing it, crying may suppress your immune system. It seems more likely that crying is something we do to get what we really need: comforting interaction. So, now that you know that, skip the crying and go tell someone how you feel. Distances and gas prices can keep us isolated. Thus we have Skype, Twitter, Blogs and Facebook. If you are sad or lonely, give me a call. Everything will get better quickly when we get out in the sun, shoot some hoops, buy stuff, walk on the beach, play tennis … and so on. If asprin doesn’t damage your stomach lining too badly, you might try that for a day or two too.”

    Fantastic writing. My deviated septum makes aspirin a no-no (extreme nosebleeds). I wonder if men really cry less than women and if so what that may mean considering what I quoted above.

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