I started this blog in an effort to help share my personal feelings and thoughts after losing my cat Dusty after almost 14 years together. Of course, like any pet parent, when she passed away, I was downright devastated. Your life is forever changed and your heart is broken. You learn with time, how to live with a hole in your heart. Which brings me to a topic that I recently saw on the news.
A woman whose dog passed away suffered from what she thought was a heart attack days after her dog’s death. After going to the hospital, doctors discovered that she didn’t suffer a heart attack but rather had Broken Heart Syndrome. So, you are probably asking yourself, “Is this real?” In a word, yes. But what exactly is Broken heart syndrome? How is it different from a heart attack? Why do people experience this? What should we know? Let me break it down.
What is Broken Heart Syndrome?
According to Heart.org, “Broken heart syndrome, also called stress-induced cardiomyopathy or takotsubo cardiomyopathy, can strike even if you’re healthy… In broken heart syndrome, a part of your heart temporarily enlarges and doesn’t pump well, while the rest of your heart functions normally or with even more forceful contractions.”
How does Broken Heart Syndrome differ from a heart attack?
According to www.heart.org, “…unlike a heart attack, there’s no evidence of blocked heart arteries in broken heart syndrome. In broken heart syndrome, a part of your heart temporarily enlarges and doesn’t pump well, while the rest of your heart functions normally or with even more forceful contractions.”
*Some signs and symptoms of broken heart syndrome differ from those of heart attack. In broken heart syndrome, symptoms occur suddenly after extreme emotional or physical stress. Here are some other differences:
- EKG (a test that records the heart’s electric activity) results don’t look the same as the EKG results for a person having a heart attack.
- Blood tests show no signs of heart damage.
- Tests show no signs of blockages in the coronary arteries.
- Tests show ballooning and unusual movement of the lower left heart chamber (left ventricle).
- Recovery time is quick, usually within days or weeks (compared with the recovery time of a month or more for a heart attack).
A quick look at Broken Heart Syndrome
Check out this short video clip here
What are the Risk factors?
According to the mayoclinic.org, “There are a number of known risk factors for broken heart syndrome, including:
- The condition affects women far more often than men.
- It appears that most people who have broken heart syndrome are older than 50.
- A history of a neurological condition.People who have neurological disorders, such as a head injury or a seizure disorder (epilepsy) have a greater risk of broken heart syndrome.
- A previous or current psychiatric disorder.If you’ve had disorders, such as anxiety or depression, you probably have a higher risk of broken heart syndrome.”
What triggers Broken Heart Syndrome?
In some cases, triggers are unknown however in examples of existing cases known publicly, this syndrome is triggered by an emotionally stressful event such as death of a pet, a loved one, divorce or some other life changing occurrence.
Woman Hospitalized With Broken Heart After Her Beloved Dog Dies
What are the symptoms to look for?
Symptoms to look for mimic those of a heart attack such as:
- Chest Pain
- Shortness of breath
If you have these symptoms or anything unusual, I would recommend calling your doctor right away. It’s better to error on the side of caution when it comes to your health.
How long does it last? Do people recover?
MayoClinic.org states, “In rare cases, broken heart syndrome is fatal. However, most who experience broken heart syndrome quickly recover and don’t have long-lasting effects.”
Originally published Nov 2017. Updated July 11, 2018
Dealing with loss and grief has taught me many things. Learning that my own pain and the heartbreak of others can actually escalate to the point of having Broken Heart Syndrome has taught me what we feel really does hit us to the core of our being and science can prove it.
Honestly and truly, we don’t need science to know what we already feel in our intuition. Heartbreak is real but with time and healing, we get through it. However, if by chance you or anyone you know, feels like your health is at risk, after experiencing a traumatic event like pet loss or something else, don’t hesitate to call your doctor immediately and reach out for help.
Have you heard of this condition before? Do you know anyone that has suffered from Broken Heart Syndrome? Comment and share your thoughts below.
If you enjoyed this post and are looking for more resources and content related to pet loss, check out a few of my other posts below or in the sidebar: