A broken heart is a real thing - but it's your brain that's causing it

The Editors
Photo credit: Getty Images

From Cosmopolitan

Although you might think the term 'broken heart' is an over-dramatisation of a person's grieving post-relationship, and is not in the slightest bit real, science has proven that your heart can in fact be damaged after a sad event.

'Broke Heart Syndrome' is a rare condition, also known as takotsubo syndrome, where the heart suddenly fails or weakens.

It usually occurs after a stressful or emotional event such as bereavement, but can also be triggered by major events such as a wedding or new job. Experts now believe that the condition could be related to the brain, with Swiss researchers suggesting that the mind’s response to stress plays a part.

The physiological cause of a broken heart is still unknown, but academics believe that it could be linked to raised levels of stress hormones like adrenaline, according to the BBC.

Dr Jelena Ghadri and colleagues at University Hospital Zurich, explained: "Emotions are processed in the brain so it is conceivable that the disease originates in the brain with top-down influences on the heart."

Photo credit: Getty Images

It has similar symptoms to a heart attack, including breathlessness and chest pain, but it’s caused by blocked blood vessels instead of blocked arteries.

2,500 people are affected every year in the UK, with some recovering over days, weeks or months but in some cases it can be deadly.

The exact pathway is still not completely understood, but Joel Rose, chief executive of Cardiomyopathy UK, highlighted: "This is an important piece of research that will help to shape our understanding of a form of cardiomyopathy that is often overlooked and remains something of an enigma."

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