Broken Heart Syndrome on the Rise Amid Pandemic

Updated: Dec. 3, 2020 at 6:27 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The Coronavirus could be causing more broken hearts. Researchers just found a significant rise in a heart condition commonly known as “Broken Heart Syndrome.”

It’s also called “Stress Cardiomyopathy.” It gives off symptoms much like a heart attack, often chest pain and shortness of breath.

“We see the pumping function of the heart muscle decrease in a situation associated with stress,” said Dr. Nancy K. Sweitzer, Director, Sarver Heart Center, University of Arizona.

Dr. Sweitzer says that can be mental, physical or emotional stress.

“We most commonly see it in the hospital in people who’ve had really horrible news- you know, death of a loved one or financial disaster or something like that,” she said.

She says it’s simply the heart muscle not working as it should with no other explanation.

Unlike heart attacks, patients don’t have blocked arteries and afterward there’s rarely any major damage to the heart. However, this is still a very serious situation.

During the pandemic, experts with the Cleveland Clinic found out Broken Heart Syndrome is on the rise. The study found 7.8% of patients in the hospital with Acute Coronary Syndrome were diagnosed with it. Before the pandemic, that number was between 1.5 and 1.8%.

So why are we seeing more cases now?

“This is a stressful time for people,” said Dr. Sweitzer. “So, is it COVID or is it just we’re in a pandemic and people are in terrible financial situations, the economy’s a mess, people are socially isolated which can be super stressful if you don’t have your support.”

So, how can you protect yourself? The study really emphasizes self-care to help relieve stress. That can be meditation, exercise or simply connecting with loved ones in a safe and socially distant manner.

We should note, Broken Heart Syndrome has not been found to be a direct symptom of the Coronavirus. Right now, experts are working hard to better understand any connection between the two.

Copyright 2020 KOLD News 13. All rights reserved.