Question

Heart Attack

Can I have a heart attack from a broken heart?

A Answers (3)

  • AJeffrey Goodman, Alternative & Complementary Medicine, answered

    Acupuncture is used to address the physical and emotional symptoms of a "Broken Heart". It is very clear to anyone who has suffered a "Broken Hearted" state that the pain is more than simply a psychological event. Blood Stagnation would be the specific syndrome in Chinese Medicine.

    Blood Stagnation is characterized by pain in a fixed location which may or may not be caused by a physical trauma injury. The nature of the pain is long lasting, can be severe, and is not noticeably effected to environment, digestion, or elimination. It does not move around the body.

    In the case of Blood Stagnation with an emotional onset, most likely the person with the pain will be able to articulate the source of their distress. Strategies for addressing Blood Stagnation focus on moving the Stagnation, and improving the sense of self and direction.

    This is actually a fairly common experience that most will encounter more than few times in their life. Acupuncture does wonders for this.

  • ASCAI answered

    You might think of a broken heart as an emotional reaction that has nothing to do with your heart physically. Or maybe you suspect there must be some reason that we attribute severe emotional loss to a broken heart.

     

    When it comes to broken hearts, medical science may be affirming folk tradition: a broken heart in some cases really is caused by emotional distress.

     

    Researchers have identified a change in the heart that can occur under severe emotional trauma or other stressors (including physical trauma to other parts of the body). This condition is named takotsubo syndrome, or “broken heart syndrome.”

     

    Takotsubo is a name given to the syndrome by Japanese medical professionals who noticed that some patients who presented at emergency rooms with the symptoms of a heart attack did not have blocked arteries. Instead, these patients all had an unusual injury to the heart – one that caused a distinctive and unusual shape to one of the chambers of their heart, the left ventricle. This chamber was shaped like a takotsubo pot used to trap octopuses.

     

    These patients, more often women, experienced reduced functioning of the left ventricle. Broken heart syndrome in very rare cases can be fatal. More often, patients’ hearts experience little to no permanent damage after recovery.

     

    It can be scary to go through a traumatic event and then experience the additional stressor of heart attack symptoms. If you do experience heart attack symptoms, do not hesitate to seek emergency help. You may have a blocked artery that could cause a heart attack. But if you have been under severe emotional stress, be sure to also communicate this to your physician (especially if you are a woman). It may aid in a speedy and accurate diagnosis.

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  • ASarah LoBisco, Integrative Medicine, answered

    You can literally have a heart attack from a broken heart. Perhaps it’s that major stressors seem more unbearable without adequate support systems in place. This increase in stress catcholamines may increase heart rate and inflammation. According to a study in Circulation:

    Acute psychological stress is associated with an abrupt increase in the risk of cardiovascular events. Intense grief in the days after the death of a significant person may trigger the onset of acute myocardial infarction (MI), but this relationship has not been systematically studied.

    A recent article by Dr. Mercola offered some more insight on the mechanism behind this grief and heart health:

    It's well known that psychological stress exacts a great physical toll on your health, but new research reveals just how extreme that toll can be.

    In comparing how grief affects your heart disease risk within a period of time, researchers found that losing a significant person in your life raises your risk of having a heart attack the next day by 21 times, and in the following week by 6 times. The risk of heart attacks began to decline after about a month had passed, perhaps as levels of stress hormones begin to level out.

    The study did not get into the causes of the abrupt increase in risk of cardiovascular events like heart attack, but it's likely related to the flood of stress hormones your body is exposed to following extreme stress.

    For instance, adrenaline increases your blood pressure and your heart rate, and it's been suggested it may lead to narrowing of the arteries that supply blood to your heart, or even bind directly to heart cells allowing large amounts of calcium to enter and render the cells temporarily unable to function properly.

    Interestingly, while your risk of heart attack increases following severe stress, so does your risk of what's known as stress cardiomyopathy -- or "broken heart syndrome" -- which is basically a "temporary" heart attack that occurs due to stress.

    Therefore, think of ways to handle stress and isolation as a heart healthy tip that goes beyond a statin deficiency. In fact, the American Heart Association recently reported how Yoga is connected to heart health by decreasing the stress response.


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Do women have heart attacks?