Broken heart syndrome is usually described as a physical pain in the heart / chest area, which is due to the emotional stress caused by a traumatic breakup or the death of a loved one.
This condition may be misdiagnosed as a heart attack because the symptoms and test results are similar. In fact, tests show dramatic changes in rhythm and blood substances that are typical of a heart attack. But unlike a heart attack, there’s no evidence of blocked heart arteries in broken heart syndrome.
According to the British Heart Foundation, it is a “temporary condition where your heart muscle becomes suddenly weakened or stunned. The left ventricle, one of the heart’s chambers, changes shape.”
Death by heartbreak is a literary staple; even Shakespeare wrote of “deadly grief.” The emotional devastation of losing a loved one can certainly feel like physical pain. But can you really die from a broken heart? As it turns out, you can, from “broken-heart syndrome,” also known as stress-induced cardiomyopathy. Studies of bereavement, in fact, provide another harsh indictment of the effects of stress on human health. But deadly grief is not about stress alone, scientists say. It shines a light on the physiological bonds of love, ceded to us by evolution, so often best understood when broken.
Studies from around the world have confirmed that people have an increased risk of dying in the weeks and months after their spouses pass away. In 2011, researchers from Harvard University and the University of Yamanashi, Tokyo pooled the results of 15 different studies, with data on more than 2.2 million people. They estimated a 41 percent increase in the risk of death in the first six months after losing a spouse. The effect didn’t just apply to the elderly. People under 65 were as likely to die in the months following a spouse’s death as those over 65. The magnitude of the “widowhood effect” was much stronger for men than it was for women.
Research has pointed out that a mutually supportive marriage acts as a buffer against stress. Partners also monitor each other and encourage healthy behavior – reminding each other to take their daily tablets, for example, and checking they don’t drink too much.
Whatever the science behind “broken heart syndrome”, the results are bitter-sweet. There is, of course, the grief of a bereaved family who have lost two people they love. But there is also often a relief that a couple deeply in love should have exited life together.
In summary, YES it is without a doubt possible to die of a broken heart. Preventive measures people can take to lower their risk of experiencing broken heart syndrome include eating a proper diet and exercising regularly as well as, when possible, reducing the number of factors that consistently cause stress, such as quarrels with family or stressful work situations. In addition seeking spiritual and alternate methods of support can help you get over the pain and frustration of the unknowns of your situation.