• Broken Heart Syndrome

    A person with broken heart syndrome usually has had recent emotional or physical stress, such as the death of a loved one or an asthma attack. This stress results in symptoms that are similar to a heart attack, such as:

    Heart attack or broken heart?

    It is difficult to tell the difference between broken heart syndrome and a heart attack since both can have changes in electrocardiograms and blood tests.
    Physicians rely on other tests that allow them to look for left ventricle abnormalities that indicate broken heart syndrome. The syndrome causes the left ventricle to narrow and develop a rounded bottom.
    In addition, patients with broken heart syndrome typically lack the coronary artery blockages associated with heart attacks.

    Are Women at Higher Risk?

    While the syndrome does occur in both sexes, a recent literature review found that 90% of broken heart cases occur in postmenopausal women. The condition typically occurs in women who are 60 or older. The reasons why the condition occurs more in women is still uncertain. However, researchers think sex hormones may play a role.
    Broken heart syndrome is a temporary and reversible condition. The left ventricle will revert to its normal shape in days or weeks. It’s also uncommon for it to happen again.

    Coping with Stress

    We will all experience stress in our lives. Mental Health America offers the following suggestions to cope:
    • Complete one task before moving on to the next one.
    • Be realistic about what you can accomplish.
    • Know that you will make mistakes and that it is okay.
    • Use your imagination to visualize yourself managing stressful situations.
    • Meditate for five to ten minutes a day.
    • Exercise 30 minutes a day.
    • Participate in hobbies.
    • Get enough sleep, eat a healthful diet, and exercise.
    • Talk to family and friends.


    The American Institute of Stress http://www.stress.org

    Mental Health America http://www.nmha.net


    Canadian Mental Health Association http://www.cmha.ca

    Canadian Psychiatric Association http://www.cpa-apc.org


    Broken heart syndrome: real, potentially deadly but recovery quick. Johns Hopkins website. Available at: http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/press%5Freleases/2005/02%5F10%5F05.html. Published February 9, 2005. Accessed February 20, 2014.

    Coping with stress checklist. Mental Health America website. Available at: http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/coping-stress-checklist#.UwYqmM53eRM. Accessed February 20, 2014.

    Derrick D. The "Broken Heart Syndrome": Understanding takotsubo cardiomyopathy. Critical Care Nurse. February 2009;29(1):49-57.

    Takotsubo cardiomyopathy. British Heart Foundation website. Available at: http://www.bhf.org.uk/heart-health/conditions/cardiomyopathy/takotsubo-cardiomyopathy.aspx. Accessed February 20, 2014.

    Zeb M, Sambu N, et al. Takotsubo cardiomyopathy: a diagnostic challenge. Postgrad Med J. 2011 Jan;87(1023):51-59.

    Revision Information

  • LiveWell personal health survey

    How healthy are you really? Find out – free.Learn more

    It's time to stop guessing. If you want to make some changes but just aren't sure how, the free personal health survey from LiveWell is a great place to start.

  • HeartSHAPE Spotlight

    At risk for a heart attack? Learn more

    Fight heart disease and prevent heart attacks. HeartSHAPE® is a painless, non-invasive test that checks pictures of your heart for early-stage coronary disease.

  • Calories and Energy Needs

    Calorie NeedsLearn more

    How many calories do you need to eat each day to maintain your weight and fuel your physical activity? Enter a few of your stats into this calculator to find out.

  • Ideal Body Weight

    Ideal Body WeightLearn more

    Using body mass index as a reference, this calculator determines your ideal body weight range. All you need to do is enter your height.

  • Body Mass Index

    Body Mass IndexLearn more

    This tool considers your height and weight to assess your weight status.

  • Can we help answer your questions?

    Wellmont Nurse Connection is your resource for valuable health information any time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Speak to a Nurse any time, day or night, at (423) 723-6877 or toll-free at 1-877-230-NURSE.