Can You Really Die From a Broken Heart?


sad woman sittingMovies and TV shows are full of tragically romantic scenes, such as someone dying from a broken heart after a breakup or the death of their partner. But research shows that there is truth to back up the claim that a broken heart could kill you. This condition, known as broken heart syndrome, can cause serious health complications if not addressed. Here’s what you need to know.

What Is Broken Heart Syndrome?

Broken heart syndrome, also called stress-induced cardiomyopathy or takotsubo cardiomyopathy, is characterized by a sudden, sharp chest pain that usually follows an emotionally stressful event. When this happens, a section of your heart becomes enlarged and therefore isn’t able to function as well as the rest of your heart.

Although the chest pain and shortness of breath that are associated with broken heart syndrome are typically only temporary, this condition could lead to cardiogenic shock, which can be fatal. Deaths from broken heart syndrome, however, are rare.

Even healthy people who don’t have a history of heart problems can suffer from broken heart syndrome.

What to Do About a Broken Heart

In most cases, your symptoms will gradually diminish on their own, especially if you are able to resolve the cause. If your symptoms persist for days or weeks, however, your doctor may suggest a series of tests like EKGs and blood work to determine the cause and best treatment options.

It’s also important to be able to distinguish signs of broken heart syndrome from those of a heart attack. The most common warning signs of a heart attack are chest pain, discomfort in your arms, jaw or neck and shortness of breath. If you think you could be having a heart attack, get medical attention right away.