Loading...

Middle-Aged Women at Higher Risk of ‘Broken Heart’ Syndrome

October 20, 2021 by Alexa Hornbeck
Heart normal echocardiography by Patrick J. Lynch, medical illustrator

LOS ANGELES – A new study from researchers from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center appears to confirm what many have long argued: That a “broken heart” really can lead to long-term heart injury.

“We know from other studies the heart-brain connection is very strong, but this is one specific diagnostic condition where it’s inarguable,” said Susan Cheng, senior author of the study and the director of the Institute for Research on Healthy Aging in the Department of Cardiology at the Smidt Heart Institute, in a phone interview with The Well News. 

Broken heart syndrome, which is more clinically referred to as Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, can cause the heart muscle to become weakened or stunned following any kind of emotional or physical distress, even a surprise birthday party, according to Cheng. 

An individual with broken heart syndrome usually will experience symptoms like chest pains and shortness of breath. The condition is typically diagnosed using a cardiac MRI, nuclear scan, or echocardiography, all imaging devices which allow physicians to see how the chambers of the heart are squeezing, and if the arteries are blocked, to rule out other conditions such as a heart attack. 

“When you see a moving heart and it’s not moving the way it should be, it means the heart muscle is weakened for some reason. It should not be moving with a weakened looking capacity, so you know there’s something going on,” Cheng said.

Although the condition can be cured using treatment like beta blockers to try and blunt the potential effects of the stress hormones and help with heart muscle function recovery, Cheng did point out that in the most rare and severe cases there have been deaths.

“In the short-term, the stunning is reversible, but the long-term consequences we are not completely sure of,” Cheng said.

Cheng and her research team used hospital data collected from more than 135,000 women and men diagnosed with Takotsubo syndrome from 2006-2017 to conduct the study. 

“When we started to look at the data from 2006- 2017 which is the last available year we had access to, we see that the rates are rising,” Cheng said. 

Not only have the rates of heartbreak syndrome been on the rise since 2006, which Cheng says may be due to the stress of the digitalization of work and non-work-related activities, but the findings revealed a disproportionate impact on middle-aged and older woman who are being diagnosed with broken heart syndrome 10 times more than younger women or men of any age.

“For the 50 to 74-year-old group, it is the perfect storm, where the heart has aged just enough and the stress response is still very robust,” Cheng said.

While these findings reveal how broken heart syndrome can impact individuals differently across gender and age, Cheng and other researchers are still in the process of collecting data to better understand the unknowns behind broken heart syndrome. Additionally, they are developing research registries, using hospital reports and blood samples to understand those who have developed the condition, have received treatment and recovered. 

Although, according to Cheng, the pandemic might pose a challenge as more people might have been reluctant to go to the hospital. 

“We might see a dip rather than a rise if many of these cases were diagnosed, if at all, outside of the hospital,” Cheng said. 

Alexa can be reached at alexa@thewellnews.com.

A+
a-

Mental Health

December 2, 2021
by Alexa Hornbeck
Researchers Find That a Blood Test Can Help Diagnose Mood Disorders

Researchers from the Indiana University School of Medicine completed a recent study on how blood biomarkers can help diagnose and... Read More

Researchers from the Indiana University School of Medicine completed a recent study on how blood biomarkers can help diagnose and treat mood disorders. “The tests are now being made available to interested doctors through a company I co-founded, called MindX Sciences,” said psychiatrist, geneticist and lead... Read More

November 17, 2021
by Tom Ramstack
House Panel Seeks Better Interventions To Prevent Veteran Suicides

WASHINGTON — The heartrending subject of veteran suicide was again front and center on Capitol Hill Wednesday as a House... Read More

WASHINGTON — The heartrending subject of veteran suicide was again front and center on Capitol Hill Wednesday as a House panel heard one heartbreaking story after another about young people who placed themselves in harm’s way for their country only to return home and take their... Read More

November 17, 2021
by Alexa Hornbeck
Health Officials Address What To Do If You Lose Your Vaccination Card

WASHINGTON —Many public health departments across the country are experiencing increasing calls from individuals who have lost their vaccination cards... Read More

WASHINGTON —Many public health departments across the country are experiencing increasing calls from individuals who have lost their vaccination cards and are seeking a replacement. "Our department receives, on average, 60 requests for replacement vaccination cards each week. This number has remained steady for the last... Read More

November 10, 2021
by Alexa Hornbeck
White House Issues New Guidance for Combating Veteran Suicides

WASHINGTON — The White House recently issued evidence-informed guidance for reducing the tragedy of veteran suicides, as 65,000 veterans have... Read More

WASHINGTON — The White House recently issued evidence-informed guidance for reducing the tragedy of veteran suicides, as 65,000 veterans have died by suicide since 2010.  "Suicide among service members, veterans, and their families is a public health and national security crisis. Far too many of our... Read More

November 10, 2021
by Alexa Hornbeck
How the Mission Act is Negatively Impacting Veteran Access to Health Care

WASHINGTON — The Mission Act was launched in 2019 to protect veterans' access to health care, but now health policy... Read More

WASHINGTON — The Mission Act was launched in 2019 to protect veterans' access to health care, but now health policy experts are finding that the legislation may actually be preventing access. “Veterans who need to go to [into] the community are not getting care, or getting... Read More

November 8, 2021
by Alexa Hornbeck
Murray Moves to Make Daylight Savings Time Permanent

WASHINGTON — During a floor speech last week, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., urged the Senate to pass legislation which would... Read More

WASHINGTON — During a floor speech last week, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., urged the Senate to pass legislation which would eliminate the “fall back” of daylight savings time which happens each November.  “Beyond convenience, this really is a matter of health and safety. Studies have shown... Read More

News From The Well
Exit mobile version