TAMPA, Fla. — February marks American Heart Month, and local doctors want you to be aware of a condition that can be triggered by stressful situations and extreme emotions: it’s called broken heart syndrome.
“Most of the time, we see people under the stress and lost a loved one as probably most commonly, although it has evolved,” said Dr. Lang Lin, a cardiologist with Baycare.
It can also be called stress cardiomyopathy or Takotsubo cardiomyopathy. According to the Mayo Clinic, people with it may have sudden chest pain or think they’re having a heart attack.
“It can be men, but it’s more common in women,” said Dr. Tara Hrobowski-Blackman, an advanced heart failure and transplant cardiologist with Largo Medical Center. “A lot of times, these patients, they come in with the same symptoms: chest pain, elephant sitting on top of my heart, oh I’m having shortness of breath.”
Some recent reports also shed light on the condition during the COVID crisis. In one released July 2020, the Cleveland Clinic says its researchers found a significant increase in patients experiencing broken heart syndrome during the pandemic.
“There are definitely a lot of different factors, but I think there are factors that have kind of been brought to the forefront because of COVID,” said Dr. Hrobowski-Blackman. “This has been a big emotional rollercoaster.”
Doctors said you should try to control what you can do and shared some steps you can take for your heart health.
“Make sure you address your risk factors,” said Dr. Lin. “All the primary care doctors, cardiologists emphasize on cholesterol management, blood pressure control, those things, maintain a good life style.”
“If I had to implore you to just make one change today, it would be increase your physical activity,” said Dr. Hrobowski-Blackman.
If you’re having any symptoms, doctors want you to call 911 or get medical help right away.