Broken heart syndrome sees an increase during pandemic

St. Bernards cardiologist explains why
Updated: Jul. 18, 2020 at 2:31 PM CDT
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - Have you heard of the broken heart syndrome? Medically, it is also known as Takotsubu Cardiomyopathy and the syndrome can be caused by emotional and physical stress.

”It was described in patients who face very bad news. Who has lost a loved one or bad financial news or something of that sort and that’s why it was called the broken heart syndrome initially,” St. Bernards Cardiologist, Dr. Ahmed Ahmed said.

A small study from the Cleveland Clinic found patients at two Ohio hospitals, who didn’t have coronavirus, were two times more likely to have broken heart syndrome than before the pandemic.

More doctors are seeing more patients with this condition since the pandemic and one of those doctors is Dr. Ahmed.

“It’s (Takotsubu cardiomyopathy) also called a lot of other things like apical ballooning syndrome, stress cardiomyopathy and, of course, broken heart syndrome,” Ahmed said.

Ahmed says the Japanese word means pot or jar that has a narrow neck and rounded bottom; a tool usually used to catch octopus. The syndrome usually happens when the heart weakens from physical and emotional stress.

“The reason they call it Takotsubu is because the heart looks exactly like that when this syndrome effects it,” Ahmed said.

So what exactly are the symptoms of broken heart syndrome?

“If you start having the symptoms chest pain, shortness of breath, these are the most two common symptoms of Takotsubu cardiomyopathy, you need to call. And you need to call 911 because that’s the fastest way we can get to you,” Ahmed said.

The syndrome looks and feels very close to a heart attack.

However, there is some good news.

“Stress cardiomyopathy or Takotsubu cardiomyopathy is in the vast majority a very benign condition,” Ahmed said

Many of the patients may have to stay at the hospital for a period of time, but with care, they can be nursed back to health.

“About 96 percent of the patients that will get this condition will recover completely.”

He says during these stressful times look for those who truly care about you including your medical provider. During these times, he has connected with many patients in the comfort of their home making sure they are in good standing.

But also, he says as a community, we have to understand that we are all under extreme stress and this is a time to lean on another.

“The physical and emotional stress is probably going to be something that we have to learn to live with and learn how to distress. Get together as a community and as a family and get our selves in a situation where we learn how to comfort each other and help each other out,” Ahmed said.

Dr. Ahmed says during these stressful times, it’s truly important for you to still take walks, talk to family as often as you can; just find the best ways to avoid the broken heart syndrome.

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