Broken Heart Syndrome


ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — The end of a relationship, a divorce, even the death of a loved one; all of these emotionally-charged events can take a toll on one’s health and in extreme cases on the heart. Broken heart syndrome is a real medical condition. While it can go away on its own, in some cases, once doctors diagnose it and treat it patients can begin to heal.

Lesley Bartlett met the love of her life in the most unlikely of places. Peter was dressed like a clown- teaching a trampoline class. But for Lesley, it was perfect.

“I think if you’re looking for a partner, if anybody’s looking for a partner that is the most important thing that he could make you laugh,” she expressed.

Marriage. Children. Graduations. Lesley and Peter built a lifetime of memories through the good and the bad.  Peter was diagnosed with lymphoma in his late fifties. Lesley was his caregiver for more than a decade until he died.

Lesley told Ivanhoe, “Sometimes I think I’d have a hole in my heart that’s never going to get better.”

Lesley kept busy and bottled up her grief.

Lesley said, “One afternoon I really didn’t feel well.  I came home from work and thought I really ought to see the doctor. I felt sick.”

Rajesh Shah, M.D., a board certified interventional cardiologist at the Florida Hospital in Orlando, Florida, said intense emotion can lead to a condition that doctors commonly call broken heart syndrome.

Dr. Shah said, “It is a pattern that we see where the base of the heart sort of squeezes, it’s hyper-dynamic, but the rest of the heart looks like a balloon.”

Broken heart syndrome is more common in women than men but can happen in both. Patients are at risk for heart failure, fluid build-up and heart arrhythmia. It’s not always easy for doctors to detect.

Dr. Shah recommended, “Asking questions up front in terms of what were you doing when the symptoms occurred, what was the scenario, how did you feel?  Has anything changed in your life?”

Patients can be treated with medication and lifestyle changes.  For most, their hearts go back to normal within weeks.

“It could take up to three months to get better, and to be patient, he was sure it would get better and he was right,” Lesley said.

Broken heart syndrome is also called stress-mediated cardiomyopathy, apical balloon syndrome or takotsubo syndrome because the heart takes on the shape of a Japanese vase.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Field Producer; Roque Correa, Editor and Videographer.


REPORT #2391a

News of an unexpected death of a loved oneBACKGROUND: Broken heart syndrome, also known as stress-induced cardiomyopathy or takotsubo cardiomyopathy (because the heart takes on the shape of a Japanese vase), is a temporary heart condition that is brought on by stressful or emotional situations like:

  • A frightening medical diagnosis
  • Domestic abuse
  • Losing — or even winning — a lot of money
  • Strong arguments
  • A surprise party
  • Having to perform publicly
  • Job loss
  • Divorce
  • Physical stressors, such as an asthma attack, a car accident or major surgery

The exact cause for this syndrome is unclear, but, it is thought that the surge of stress hormones, like adrenaline, can temporarily damage the heart of some people. Furthermore, there are some factors that can put you at risk of suffering from the syndrome. These are:

  • Gender. The condition affects women far more often than men.
  • Age. Most people who suffer from the syndrome are older than 50.
  • A history of a neurological condition. A head injury or a seizure disorder like epilepsy.
  • A previous or current psychiatric disorder. If you’ve had disorders, such as anxiety or depression.

(Source: &

BROKEN HEART VS. HEART ATTACK: The common symptoms of broken heart syndrome are very similar to those of a heart attack: chest pain and shortness of breath. One can experience these two without any previous history of heart attacks, so it is important to call 911 immediately in order for them to be treated. Heart attacks are usually caused by the blockage of an artery due to a clot, whereas, in broken heart syndrome the arteries are not blocked; the flow of blood is reduced. Test results such as an EKG, blood tests and chest X-rays determine which of the two a person is suffering from.


TREATMENT: Broken heart syndrome is usually treatable. Full recovery occurs in weeks and the risk of reoccurrence again is very low. Doctors usually prescribe heart medications, like ACE inhibitors, beta blockers and diuretics to help reduce the workload of the heart and to prevent any more episodes happening again in the future.


* For More Information, Contact:

Rajesh Shah, M.D.

Orlando Cardiac & Vascular Specialists


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