Doctors Say a Severe Breakup Causes the Same Long-Term Damage as a Heart Attack

Doctors Say a Severe Breakup Causes the Same Long-Term Damage as a Heart Attack

Our love lives are literally killing us. 

By Marianne Garvey

Severe emotional stress — like a breakup — can cause a sudden heart condition that causes the same damage as a heart attack, new research has found.

“Broken heart syndrome,” or Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, actually weakens your heart muscle to the point where it doesn’t work properly.

During an attack, the heart muscle weakens to the point where it can no longer function as effectively, and the effects on some can be permanent. Great, now our breakups are killing us.

In the study, a team of doctors examined 37 patients for an average period of two years using ultrasound and MRI scans, and found that those suffering from severe heartbreak had “untreatable damage to the heart’s muscle tissue which had reduced elasticity that prevented full contractions with every heartbeat.” It was found to mostly affect women between the ages of 58 and 75.

"Takotsubo is a devastating disease that can suddenly strike down otherwise healthy people,” explained Professor Jeremy Pearson, associate medical director for the study. “We once thought the effects of this life-threatening disease were temporary, but now we can see they can continue to affect people for the rest of their lives.”

What happens is that during a “broken heart syndrome” attack, part of the heart muscle weakens and balloons, which cripples the heart’s pumping ability. Patients do not recover quickly and fine scar tissue in the heart’s muscle is created.

“There is no long-term treatment for people with Takotsubo because we mistakenly thought patients would make a full recovery,” Professor Pearson says. “This new research shows there are long-term effects on heart health, and suggests we should be treating patients in a similar way to those who are at risk of heart failure.”

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