‘Broken Heart Syndrome’ – Women are More Likely to Suffer

By Emily Murray

There are many ‘firsts’ in life that we never forget. Some are great (getting that first vehicle) and others may leave a scar, but most of us can unfortunately remember the pain of that first broken heart. While perhaps we were experiencing teenage strife back then, actual ‘broken heart syndrome’ is a bit more serious than that and according to a new study, women are more likely to suffer the consequences.

To be more specific, women are 7 to 9 times more likely to suffer from this condition than their male peers. To be clear, ‘broken heart syndrome’ is a more serious issue than a mere early-relationship break-up. It can be triggered by a very emotional breakup or by a partner’s death. This is why we commonly see the death of one older person followed shortly thereafter by the remaining partner who was left behind.

According to a recent Washington Post article, it wasn’t until 1990 that a broken heart was related to any type of serious medical condition but it was in that year that Japanese doctors first made the correlation.  They also named this condition Takotsubo cardiomyopathy.

The reason that heart ache can have an ill affect on the heart is that intense emotion or stress results in an excess of stress hormones and adrenaline, which in turn cause the heart to pump harder and makes the main chamber ‘balloon.’  This can then lead to abnormalities in heart rhythm. Will the symptoms the person experiences are very similar to those suffered by heart attack victims, there is no blocked artery at blame.

Often once the stress subsides, the person will recover. When heart ache and sadness are debilitating however, the condition can be life-threatening for some and more risky for women in particular.

The study results, as explained in the Washington Post by Mayo Clinic cardiologist Dr. Abhiram Prasad, are as follows:

“It’s the only cardiac condition where there’s such a female preponderance,” he said.

“One theory is that hormones play a role. Another is that men have more adrenaline receptors on cells in their hearts than women do, “so maybe men are able to handle stress better” and the chemical surge it releases, Deshmukh said.”

This of course feeds into society’s preconceived notion that women are the emotional ones and are more fragile than men. Today this type of thinking is of course considered archaic. Men may also suffer ‘broken heart syndrome,’ but it appears that women’s hearts may not be as well equipped to handle this kind of shock to the system as men’s are.