Published May 15, 2013
As 72-year-old Mimi Scott knows all too well, a troubled mind can literally break your heart. Last year, the TV host and actress was grieving the deaths of two of her four dogs when she learned her dear friend Mr. Food, a TV personality, died.
Scott felt a severe pain in the center of her chest. The symptoms were just like a heart attack - but doctors said this was a completely different heart problem.
The condition is called takotsubo cardiomyopathy, also known as broken-heart syndrome.
Dr. Mary Ann McLaughlin, the director of Mount Sinai Medical Center's cardiac health program, said in takotsubo cardiomyopathy there is no blocked artery; instead, the heart muscle balloons out.
The condition typically occurs in post-menopausal women and is brought on by a rush of hormones and adrenaline following a severe emotional event.
"We mostly see this disorder when people are having some kind of stress - it could be very bad or very good," she said. "So a sudden death of a loved one, a divorce. We've seen people open up a note that their house was under foreclosure."
Dr. McLaughlin said if if someone has broken heart syndrome it can be treated with the same medications as for heart attacks. Patients will typically recover within a month.
Scott said she has made peace with her losses and is putting her love into family and her two surviving pups.