COVID-19 tied to ‘broken-heart syndrome’

COVID-19 tied to ‘broken-heart syndrome’

If you have been feeling unusually sad during the coronavirus pandemic, you’re not alone. For many people whose lives have been upended, the months of stress have taken their toll on their physical and emotional health.

Researchers at the Cleveland Clinic have made a sobering discovery: They’ve seen a significant increase in the number of patients with stress cardiomyopathy, also known as “broken-heart syndrome.’’ The condition is usually seen in people dealing with highly stressful events such as the death of a spouse.

Symptoms can mimic a heart attack, such as chest pain, shortness of breath and an irregular heartbeat. Then there is cardiogenic shock, which is when the heart can’t pump enough blood to meet the body’s demands because of an increase of stress hormones brought on by the person’s reaction to extremely stressful events.

The researchers compared nearly 300 patients with heart-related problems with those from four pre-coronavirus periods. They found a nearly 8% incidence of broken-heart syndrome from March 1 to April 30 this year, compared with just over 1% before the pandemic struck.

They concluded the distress brought on by the pandemic is behind the striking increase in the cases, noting that all of the broken-heart patients had negative COVID-19 test results.

Stress cardiomyopathy can be treated with drug to lower blood pressure and slow the heart rate. Other medications can help manage stress.

But the best treatment may come from family and friends. Doctors say caring for each other during these trying times can help relieve anxiety and help those feeling overwhelmed.

At times like this, it truly does take a village to mend a broken heart.

Related Episodes