Stress Can Trigger A Fake "Heart Attack"

Most people think a broken heart isnt a literal expression. Yet research shows that strong emotions, including sorrow and fright, can actually stun the heart and mimic symptoms of a massive heart attack.

The condition is aptly named Broken Heart Syndrome or, as the medical world calls it, stress cardiomyopathy.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University Medical School examined the cases of patients in coronary care units in Baltimore. The patients had chest pains and weakening of the heart, according to the study.

They found that nineteen patients eighteen women and one man had few risk factors for heart disease and recovered far more quickly than other heart patients. (The average recovery time was two weeks.) The other big difference: the stress hormone levels of the nineteen patients were two to three times as high as patients who had suffered a classic heart attack. Those hormones include adrenaline.

The broken-heart syndrome, researchers said, is caused by strong emotions such as fright and anger. Among the nineteen patients, the immediate causes of sharply increased hormone levels included a car accident, a death in the family, a court appearanceand even a surprise party.

The researchers urged doctors to consider the possibility that not every symptom of heart attack is caused by an actual attack.

Of course, if you or anyone else suffer symptoms of a heart attack, dont ever try to diagnose it yourself. Call 911 immediately.

Robin Westen is ThirdAges medical reporter. Check for her daily updates. She is the author of Relationship Repair.

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