Can you die of a broken heart?

by Guest Writer



Whether you’ve lost loved ones or pets, experienced a brutal break-up, or had your heart broken due to devastating news around the world, we’ve all been there. Heartbreak hurts.


But can you die of a broken heart?


Take the recent death of the beloved mother daughter duo, Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher for example. One day after Fisher passed away, her mother, Reynolds, passed away. According to The New York Times article, “Did Debbie Reynolds Die of a Broken Heart?” director of women’s heart health at the New York Lenox Hospital, Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, it appeared the reason for Reynolds’ passing was a heart attack, where “the heart is literally stunned.”


Now this isn’t the first account of loved ones passing in the same day. Just a few months ago, Time covered a story on a couple in Texas that had been married for 74 years. Leonard Cherry, 95, and his wife Hazel Cherry, 93 died on October 27 just several hours apart. While the couple was in their early nineties, many are arguing that Hazel passed away from a broken heart, and according to the American Heart Association, they’re right.


Broken Heart Syndrome is real, and can happen to you even if you’re young and healthy, says the American Heart Association.


How does it happen?


When Broken Heart Syndrome, otherwise known as stress-induced cardiomyopathy, takes place, chest pain is often experienced due to a surge of hormones. This can happen learning death of a loved one, or witnessing a traumatic event.


Part of heart temporarily enlarges and can fail to successfully pump blood. While one part is failing, that can cause other parts of your heart to create forceful, and painful, contractions to make up for the lack of blood being pumped to your brain.


Often times, Broken Heart Syndrome can be mistaken for a heart-attack, but without the sign of blocked arteries.


What to look for with Broken Heart Syndrome:


Signs and symptoms of Broken Heart Syndrome include but are not limited to:

  • Angina- chest pain and shortness of breath.
  • Arrhythmias- irregular heartbeats.

What’s the difference in Broken Heart Syndrome and a Heart Attack?


As we mentioned earlier, a heart attack is often caused by a blockage, or artery being clogged. When it comes to Broken Heart Syndrome, tests show zero signs of actual heart damage and no signs of blockage. Instead, tests do show a balloon-like effect and unusual movement in the left ventricle of the heart.
Studies clearly show that you can die of a broken heart, but we’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject. Let us know in the comments below.


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