What happens is the sudden release of neuro-hormones into the bloodstream – up to 20 times what is normal. This has the effect of stunning the heart, making it look horribly injured and weak. But within two or three weeks, the heart is back to normal. This “faux heart attack” is unlike an authentic heart attack, in which damage to the heart is permanent.
People who have one episode of broken-heart syndrome are unlikely to have another, but this fact shouldn’t be taken lightly. A third of patients with the syndrome are critically ill when admitted to the hospital and will need follow-up care to be sure their hearts return to normal pumping capacity.