Women and Stress Cardiomyopathy (Broken Heart Syndrome)

Women and Stress Cardiomyopathy (Broken Heart Syndrome)

Stress cardiomyopathy is a clinical syndrome presenting as acute chest pain, mimicking a heart attack, and characterized by transient left ventricular dysfunction often related to emotional or physical stress. It’s a health condition that mostly affects women. In fact, more than 90 percent of reported cases occur in women ages 58 to 75.

Women with stress cardiomyopathy can present with low blood pressure, congestive heart failure, and even shock. But unlike a heart attack, which kills heart cells, it is believed that stress cardiomyopathy uses adrenaline and other hormones to temporarily give shock heart cells. Fortunately, this sudden shock gets better very quickly, often within just a few days to a few weeks.

Symptoms of stress cardiomyopathy:

The symptoms of stress cardiomyopathy can be treated given the diagnosis is made early. These symptoms mostly resemble the symptoms of a heart attack. In both heart attack and broken heart syndrome, one experiences a sudden onset of chest pain besides the severe episodes of shortness of breath.

Other symptoms include:

  • Fatigue/ tiredness
  • Abnormalities occurring in the left ventricle of the heart
  • Ballooning of the left ventricle

Some experts think it affects women more than men due to hormones, and/or because of differences in the way women and men react to stress.

The symptoms of stress cardiomyopathy are similar to a heart attack, hence it’s treated in the same way. The tests may include ECG, Echocardiogram and coronary angiogram.

The better part of Stress cardiomyopathy rarely fatal, and the condition generally resolves within weeks or months. But it can cause severe short-term heart muscle failure even if your coronary arteries are not blocked. So, it’s important to seek medical help right away.