The Anatomy of a Broken Heart

By Kylene Yumul

Produced and edited by Kylene Yumul.

Dying from a broken heart may sound like it’s from romance fiction, but heartbreak can, in fact, lead to dangerous physical symptoms. Now, science has a name for it. It’s called Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, named after the Japanese word for an octopus pot. That’s the shape that the heart takes when suffering from Broken Heart Syndrome.

“The signature article that was published on this was in the Valentine’s Day edition of the New England Journal of Medicine, and it was referred to as ‘broken heart syndrome’ – the idea being that some stressful emotional event could actually trigger a broken heart,” says Lorrel Toft, a clinical cardiologist at Carson-Tahoe Medical Center.

What makes this syndrome sometimes difficult to detect is that it often occurs among the same groups vulnerable to heart attacks.

The good news: Given time, the heart will recover it’s normal shape and function.

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