A New Study Says, “YES.”
There’s a saying that no one ever died from a broken heart, but findings from a new study at Johns Hopkins (published in The New England Journal of Medicine) suggest it can do a lot more damage than you think.
The clinical research showed that some people may respond to sudden, overwhelming emotional stress such as unexpected breakup or severe grief by releasing large amounts of “catecholamines” into the blood stream, along with their breakdown products and the small proteins produced by an over-excited nervous system. These chemicals can be temporarily toxic to the heart, effectively stunning the muscle and producing symptoms similar to a typical heart attack, including chest pain, fluid in the lungs, shortness of breath and heart failure.
In other words, these broken heart syndrome (BHS) symptoms can cause a seemingly healthy heart to stop working normally–all due to the emotional stress brought on by something like an unexpected breakup. The physical symptoms of depressed patients, have experienced after a breakup or divorce include loss of appetite, inability to sleep, tightening in the chest, and nausea; while emotional problems include everything from depression to uncontrolled crying and loss of self-esteem.
Doctors estimate 1 to 2 percent of patients who are diagnosed with a heart attack in the U.S. are actually suffering broken heart syndrome. The vast majority of sufferers are “women” (studies suggest that 90 to 95 percent of patients are female).
If identified quickly and treated appropriately, BHS can resolve in a few days and leave the patient with no lasting physical damage.
Emotionally, though, the stress of a breakup may linger. Some tips on how to minimize stress and keep your body and mind in balance as you go through a breakup or divorce include:
- Stay active and try to maintain a balance of a healthy diet with equal amounts of sleep and exercise.
- Talking about the heartbreak can sometimes speed the recovery process. Many people seek out a therapist; however, talking to others going through similar situations can help.
- Try not to isolate yourself. Use this time to expand your horizons.
- Engage in social activities with friends and family in order to keep your mind off your loss and to focus on moving on with your life.
- Allow time to heal the wounds. While there’s no set formula to how long it takes to get over a heartbreak. Everyone has the potential to bounce back to life and move forward.