Emotional Stress Can Lead to a Broken Heart, Scientists Say

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A condition frequently misdiagnosed as a heart attack could actually be a broken heart, The Wall Street Journal reported.

So-called "broken heart syndrome" can be brought on by severe emotional or physical trauma, especially in those who have recently lost a loved one, studies conducted independently in Japan and the U.S. revealed.

The phenomenon is akin to a "concussion' of the heart, according to Minneapolis Heart Institute cardiologist Scott Sharkey.

“It’s really a heart attack which is triggered by stress rather than a blocked artery,” he said.

But patients who entered the hospital with broken hearts returned to normal in 48 to 72 hours, a remarkably fast turnaround time, and did not exhibit the same symptoms as heart attack patients in scans, said another Minnesota cardiologist, Chet Rihal.

Dorothy Lee suffered from a literal broken heart after seeing her husband of 40 years die in the car. She managed to call 911 and ride with him in an ambulance to the hospital, but had chest pains and lost consciousness immediately upon hearing he had died.

Doctors expected an X-ray to show a blood clot or other evidence of heart failure, but there was no such result.

Broken-heart syndrome occurs in men and children, but it is particularly prevalent in post-menopausal women, likely due to their changing levels of the hormone estrogen.

Click here to read more from The Wall Street Journal.