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Can A Broken Heart Really Kill You? | Affinity Health

Affinity Health, a leading provider of high-quality healthcare, discusses how a broken heart can adversely affect your health.


The month of love has come to a close, but emotions can still run high or low –  no matter the month of the year, especially for those who have suffered loss and heartbreak. Many have heard the phrase “broken heart” and associate it with sadness. But there is far more to heartbreak than one may imagine.


What Is Broken Heart Syndrome?

Broken Heart Syndrome happens when a person feels sudden and acute stress. It causes the heart muscle to weaken fast. It is also known as Stress Cardiomyopathy or Takotsubo Syndrome.

“Grief, loss, and emotional pain cause broken heart syndrome,” says Murray Hewlett, CEO of Affinity Health. As time passes, most people with broken heart syndrome recover well. But some suffer health issues that can be life-threatening.


When Was Broken Heart Syndrome First Discovered?


Japanese physician, Hikaru Sato, discovered “broken heart syndrome” in 1991. It is a brief illness that resembles a heart attack but seldom results in death.


According to Harvard Medical School, more than 90% of the recorded cases of “broken heart syndrome” happen in women aged 58 to 75. Doctors diagnose patients with “broken heart syndrome” through cardiac tests and exams. They find that patients show a bigger left ventricle in the heart. It looks like the shape of a pottery pot with a circular bottom and a narrow neck. In Japan, fishers catch octopus in a similar pot known as a “takotsubo.”


Andre Macedo Dias, MD, authored research publications on this condition. He collaborated on global studies on the subject. These include the International Journal of Cardiology.


He explains that the number of patients diagnosed with Takotsubo is higher now. This number is in contrast with the number of patients in the last decade. The condition is often induced by an extraordinarily stressful event. Such events could be the death of a partner or the break-up of a relationship. An excess of stress hormones can alter and weaken the heart.

What Are the Signs And Symptoms of a Broken Heart?

The following symptoms of broken heart syndrome can be mistaken for those of a heart attack:

  • Chest ache
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Diaphoresis (sweating)
  • Dizziness


These symptoms might appear minutes or hours after an emotionally or physically stressful event.

Is Broken Heart Syndrome Life-Threatening?

Yes, broken heart syndrome is potentially fatal. It can induce severe cardiac muscle weakening in some circumstances, resulting in:

  • Heart failure
  • Shock due to low blood pressure
  • Anomalies in the cardiac rhythm that could be fatal


The good news is that if patients are under the care of experts knowledgeable about the illness, they can recover fast. Even patients who are critically ill with this illness have a high chance of recovery.

What Is the Treatment for Broken Heart Syndrome?

If you believe you may have broken heart syndrome, it’s best to book an appointment with your GP. Your doctor may refer you to a cardiologist. Standard medications for heart muscle weakness will depend on several factors. The most key factors are your heart rate and blood pressure.


Your health care provider may suggest an exercise programme including cardiac rehabilitation. If possible, avoiding stressful situations is always recommended. Interventions to reduce stress include meditation, yoga, physical rehabilitation, and exercise.

About Affinity Health

Affinity Health is South Africa’s leading provider of health insurance, offering you a range of options at affordable rates including access to the widest national provider network. We understand the importance of having medical insurance that meets your needs, your budget, and your lifestyle.

Our range of healthcare products is designed to protect you and your family when it matters the most. We strive to give our clients peace of mind and the highest standard of service at all times. For more information, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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