Studies say your heart literally breaks when you’re broken-hearted

Broken Heart Syndrome may sound like the name of an angsty mixtape – but surprise! – it’s actually real. Also real: you can literally die from being broken-hearted.

The American Heart Association explains that broken heart syndrome (which has a fancier name: takotsubo cardiomyopathy) can feel similar to a heart attack. The symptoms, as reported by Glamour: shortness of breath and abrupt, acute chest pain that follows an emotional event (such as a breakup or someone passing away). In fact, broken heart syndrome is mainly different from a heart attack because it does not involve an artery-related blockage in the heart.


To make matters even more surprising, a new European Heart Journal study has revealed that broken heart syndrome can occur in both heartbroken and happy individuals. To conduct this research, 485 patients coping with broken heart syndrome were examined. All of these participants had something emotionally triggering them and, in the end, 20 people were noted to experience broken heart syndrome after a moment of happiness.

Interestingly enough, the European Heart Journal study found that 95% of broken heart syndrome participants – in both the happy and broken-hearted groups – were women. Doctors aren’t sure why this is, but cardiologist Dr. Steven Schiff told Glamour, “I’ve seen this a dozen times. It’s almost always been women.”


Dr. Malissa Wood adds that it may have to do with female hormones: “It’s probably tied somehow into estrogen levels.” Dr. Wood goes on to say that, while many believe broken heart syndrome to only occur in postmenopausal women, she’s also seen it happen with younger women in their 30s and 40s. It can even include jaw pain, back pain, and nausea.

Glamour states that on the plus side, broken heart syndrome isn’t associated with any risk factors and one is able to recover from it. On the downside, people have been known to die from broken heart syndrome, which is why you must see a doctor if you recognize the condition’s symptoms. “Anything like this that comes on abruptly and is something that you haven’t felt before, that needs to get checked out,” asserts Dr. Wood.


While this is certainly an anxiety-inducing concept, Dr. Schiff says, “This happens, but it’s rare.” In other words,  Glamour asserts, you should not become consumed with worry over broken heart syndrome because life’s ups and downs most likely won’t affect your heart in this manner.