broken heart syndrome

‘Broken Heart Syndrome' is Real, Doctors Say, as Cases Reported During Pandemic

Researchers at several hospitals across the country are collecting data on what they believe is a surge in cases of "broken heart syndrome"

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Chest pain and shortness of breath are symptoms of a heart attack, but they also could be signs of "broken heart syndrome."

“This is a real phenomenon associated with stress that we're all dealing with these days,” said Dr. Mark Ricciardi, director of Interventional Cardiology at NorthShore University Health System.

Dr. Ricciardi told NBC 5 he has treated patients for the issue, also referred to as “Takotsubo cardiomyopathy.”

“It’s what we call a cardiomyopathy, a sickened heart, a weak heart that comes on out of the blue and can result in heart failure and can be a very grave condition. 0Often it recovers on its own, though, with good therapy,” the doctor said.

Researchers at several hospitals across the country are collecting data on what they believe is a surge in cases of "broken heart syndrome" during the pandemic, particularly in women.

“I can't stress enough how important it is to get checked out if you experience any symptoms of chest pain that are sudden, new or unexpected, difficulty breathing or not being able to catch your breath,” said Dr. Sadiya Khan, a cardiologist with Northwestern Medicine.

While broken heart syndrome is very rare, cardiac issues have been a concern as the pandemic drags on, with heart disease still the number one cause of death in the U.S.

A recent Cleveland Clinic survey found 27% of Americans diagnosed with COVID-19 say it has impacted their heart health.

“In addition, the amount of stress that everyone is under during this time has worsened overall heart health,” Khan said.

She recommends a yearly physical, so you can know your numbers.

“Important numbers would be your body mass index, your blood pressure, your glucose level or risk for diabetes, as well as your cholesterol levels,” Khan said.

On this Valentine’s Day, doctors say you should make your heart a priority.

“It reminds us we really have to take care of ourselves. So many people have become stagnant. They’re not taking their motor out for a spin to test their heart health,” Ricciardi said.

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