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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

12/23/2013 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (

Chronic sadness can lead to sickness, physicians warn

When they say someone has died of a broken heart, it's usually after the death of a spouse or loved one. Those with "Broken hearts" plunge head first into despair and melancholia, sometimes ending their lives in suicide. Doctors now say that people can literally die from "broken hearts" - and that sadness often times begets sickness.

The symptoms, EKG, and blood tests can be just like a heart attack. 'With broken heart syndrome, there's no blockage to explain this extent of heart damage,' Dr. Friedel said.

The symptoms, EKG, and blood tests can be just like a heart attack. "With broken heart syndrome, there's no blockage to explain this extent of heart damage," Dr. Friedel said.


By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (

12/23/2013 (1 year ago)

Published in Health

Keywords: Broken heart, sadness, medical condition

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "Broken heart syndrome" is a serious medical condition caused by sadness.

One woman describes how she lost her beloved family pet after 14 years. The dog died unexpectedly at a kennel while she was on vacation. "She was just the nicest dog," the woman said.

She went into a period of mourning and nearly died of a broken heart. "I said to my husband, 'I'm going to the doctor's, to the cardiologist, to see if he can fix my broken heart.' It's exactly what I said," she says.

A doctor's appointment set for the following day, she said "To tell you the truth, I was really short of breath, but I didn't put any weight on it. I thought, well, this is because I'm upset.

"She walked into the office, and she just did not look well," Dr. Jeffrey Friedel, a cardiologist says. "She was very pale; she was breaking out in a cold sweat. She was short of breath, and she was complaining of a lot of chest pressure." A heart cath taken at a nearby hospital showed the problem, an actual illness called broken heart syndrome.

"The heart becomes severely weakened in a very characteristic shape, and it's usually in response to an intensely stressful event," Dr. Friedel says. "They can be in heart failure, they can be in shock; and in the worst case scenario, they can present in full cardiac arrest."

The symptoms, EKG, and blood tests can be just like a heart attack. "With broken heart syndrome, there's no blockage to explain this extent of heart damage," Dr. Friedel said.

The condition is usually seen after the death of a loved one, after an argument or after extreme emotional turmoil.

"There's this intense surge of stress hormones that basically damage the heart," Dr. Friedel said.

It's generally an unexpected diagnosis. Dr. Friedel says that he sees fewer than 10 cases a year. It's more common in women.

"Usually, we're expecting to find a blockage that we can fix, and get the heart to recover. So, yeah, it's always a surprise," he said. "Ten, 20 years ago, we never diagnosed it, we just didn't know about it."

The condition can be treated with medicines to strengthen pumping, lower the blood pressure, and slow the pulse. The vast majority of patients do well.


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