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Can your heart literally be broken?

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Most of the time when people might say, "My heart is broken" they mean it figuratively. However, a new study shows that the human heart can literally be broken. Therefore, when some people say their heart has been broken, they could actually mean it.

Researchers have found that the stress of natural disasters can break people's hearts. They also found a high rise in the "broken heart syndrome" in Vermont after a huge storm ravaged the state and in Missouri after a massive tornado.

Lead investigator Dr. Sadip Pant, an internist at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences concludes, "Despite the seemingly increasing number of natural disasters we have, there is limited data about how it might affect the heart."

The broken heart syndrome is known as Takotsubo cardiomyopathy. People with the broken heart syndrome suffer a temporary enlargement and weakening of the heart. This condition is often triggered by extreme emotional or physical stress, such as the sudden death of a loved one, a divorce, being in a traffic crash, a surprise party, constant anxiety or fear of performing in public. Stress cardiomyopathy is a well-recognized cause of acute heart failure, lethal ventricular arrhythmias, and ventricular rupture.

Can a person die from a broken heart?

Yes, you can die from a broken heart. Emotions and stress can cause your body to release certain hormones that, under certain circumstances, can paralyze large portions of your heart. Takotsubo cardiomyopathy is usually temporary and returns to normal after supportive measures. In some cases, broken hearts can be fatal.

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