Heart, really can “break”

2022-05-22 0 By

Asia-pacific Daily Shannon is now in the third year of the outbreak.There is a growing awareness (and perhaps even experience) that the stress of an epidemic can have long-term effects.For many women in particular, the stress can be life-threatening.Researchers at Cedars Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles, Johns Hopkins University and the Cleveland Clinic found that “broken heart syndrome” — a serious heart condition brought on by emotional stress — is surging during the pandemic, rising from less than 2 percent to nearly 8 percent.What is “broken heart syndrome”?”Broken heart syndrome,” medically known as stress cardiomyopathy, is a type of heart disease.Like any other heart attack, it can cause shortness of breath, chest pain and abnormal heart rhythms, but the mechanism is entirely different.This is particularly common among women, both in general and during epidemics.A typical heart attack is caused by a blockage in an artery that damages the heart muscle, said Cardiologist Dr. Sharon Hayes, founder of the Rochester Women’s Heart Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.But stress cardiomyopathy doesn’t involve blocked arteries, and while it can be life-threatening, it has a higher survival rate than other types of heart attack because the heart is easier to recover.The syndrome was first described in Japan in 1990, Dr. Hayes said.Researchers at the time named it “octopus pot heart disease” because the shape of the left ventricle on the angiogram looks like the ceramic pot used to trap octopuses in the ocean.As the syndrome gained more recognition and emotional stress often caused it to develop, people began to call it “broken heart syndrome”.What actually causes stress-induced heart attacks is not entirely clear.Stress affects the body in many ways.For example, feeling nervous after a long day and having a headache, or being under constant stress, are more likely to develop high blood pressure and even arterial problems.One unproven hypothesis about stress cardiomyopathy, Dr. Hayes says, is that stress hormones can cause spasms in the heart’s blood vessels.”They are not permanent blockages, but they can restrict blood flow and cause heart muscle injury,” she said.But “broken heart” or emotional stress are not the only causes. Physical stress can also cause symptoms.For example, it is not uncommon for people with other major medical conditions to develop this kind of heart disease.So while the stress of the epidemic is almost certainly responsible for these higher numbers, the spike could also be linked to the delayed treatment of infected people during the pandemic due to other medical issues.Stress-induced heart attacks can happen to anyone, but postmenopausal women account for 90 percent of cases of stress cardiomyopathy, according to the American College of Cardiology.Anxiety can cause these conditions, but doctors are more likely to treat chest pain or shortness of breath in women as psychiatric.But Dr Hayes stressed that this did not mean women were ‘just more emotional’.”Biologically, women respond to stress differently than men,” she says.For example, studies have shown that men and women can experience completely different changes in blood pressure and blood flow under mental stress, which may account for the high incidence of stress cardiomyopathy in women.”Some women with stress cardiomyopathy also have other risk factors for heart attack, such as high blood pressure.Dr. Hayes says one of the most critical ways to prevent it is to manage your own stress.”To me, suggesting that a woman needs to manage untreated anxiety or depression sounds like I think it’s all in their imagination,” Dr. Hayes said, “but I don’t think we can heal our hearts if we can’t deal with our own stress and worry.”(Source: Asia-pacific Daily APDNEWS)