WETHERSFIELD, Conn. (WTNH) – A heart condition, triggered by a shocking emotional experience, is not as trivial as you may think. Broken Heart Syndrome is indeed very real.
It’s estimated that one out of 20 patients in the Emergency Department, with what appears to be a heart attack, actually has Broken Heart Syndrome.
Carol Rogers is monitored closely after what she believed was a heart attack.
“I felt a heaviness on my chest but like most women, you think — it’s a muscle pull. It’s really nothing.”
It happened in the middle of a vicious assault by a loose dog on her Siberian Husky- Hailey.
“It was shocking for her and for myself because I thought the other dog was going to kill her.”
It was not a heart attack Carol was experiencing.
An angiogram revealed that her heart was clear of any blockages.
Carol was diagnosed with Broken Heart Syndrome.
“It’s a very real cardiac problem,” says Cardiologist Dr. Anthony LaSala with Starling Physicians, “One of the precipitators could be an emotional crisis such as a divorce or a loss of a loved one or seeing a very unpleasant event.”
The unpleasant event for Carol was that it appeared Hailey, the family pet, was getting mauled.
“In my mind I see the other dog with his jaws around my dog’s neck.”
Broken Heart also known as Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, is temporary.
Dr. LaSala says, “There is no permanent damage done to the heart muscle. We surmise that the brain connection to the heart when a patient is going through a stressful acute episode, triggers a release of adrenaline into the heart muscle and the heart muscle becomes overwhelmed and stunned and stops functioning.”
A tell-tale sign is the ballooning of the heart’s left ventricle. With rest and medication, the heart returns to its normal size. Post menopausal women are most at risk.
“We like to think is that these women do not make estrogen and its the estrogen that protected them from having this event prior,” says Dr. LaSala.
Hailey was not hurt. Carol has fully recovered.
“I think because I was a walker and I did walk several miles a day probably helped.”
If left untreated, Broken Heart Syndrome can lead to permanent heart danger and can be fatal.
Dr. LaSala says getting medical attention as soon as possible is key to a full recovery.
While over 90% of those diagnosed are post-menopausal women, men are also at risk.