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Who experiences “broken heart,” or takotsubo syndrome?

Medical science is confirming what people seem to have known intuitively: emotional stress can break your heart. This condition is called 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 abnormal and distinctive shape to one of the chambers of their heart, the left ventricle. This chamber was shaped like a takotsubo pot used to trap octopuses.
 
Patients with broken heart syndrome are overwhelmingly postmenopausal women. There is much about the syndrome that is not yet known, but early research seems to indicate that over 80 percent of patients with the syndrome are women.
 
The syndrome is often brought on by severe emotional stress or physical trauma to another portion of the body. One theory is that takotsubo syndrome is caused by the action of hormones called catecholamines (mainly adrenaline) that are produced by the adrenal glands. The syndrome is often called broken heart syndrome because it so often manifests after the death of a loved one. It can be brought on by any number of shocks, even events that we tend to think of as good - such as a surprise party.
 
While the syndrome can be fatal in very rare instances, most patients recover fully.

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