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Broken Hearts on the Rise During COVID-19

by Marianne Navada

Broken heart syndrome is a real medical condition. It happens when the heart muscles weaken, which affects the heart’s ability to pump blood into the body. A recent study published in JAMA Network shows that more people were admitted to the hospital with broken heart syndrome compared to pre-pandemic time.  The patients also spent more time in the hospital compared to patients suffering from broken heart syndrome pre COVID-19 life.

Participants in the study did not have the coronavirus. This reflects the medical effects of the pandemic, other than coronavirus.

Clogged arteries cause heart attacks. On the other hand, broken heart syndrome or stress cardiomyopathy results from intense emotional or physical experiences. The heart’s pumping chamber changes shape and becomes enlarged. Those affected might feel as if they are having a heart attack, but they are not. 

cardi/o = heart

my/o = muscle

pathy = disease

The condition is usually temporary and rarely fatal. Doctors treat patients suffering from stress cardiomyopathy with “heart medication to lower blood pressure and slow heart rate in addition to medications that can help manage stress.”

With lives and schedules disrupted by COVID-19, try integrating a stress management routine in your day, from breath exercises to simply doing more of the things that relaxe you. Listen to your body and seek medical help if needed.

The More You Know

The medical community also refers to stress cardiomyopathy as takotsubo cardiomyopathy, since the enlarged heart chamber looks like a Tako-Tsubo pot, a fishing pot used to catch octopus.

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