Physiological differences between the sexes mean that women are nine times more likely to die from a broken heart than men, scientists say.
New research by Monash University in Melbourne first discovered a way to prevent and reverse damage caused by broken heart syndrome, also known as Takotsubo cardiomyopathy.
The syndrome causes a weakening of the left ventricle, the heart’s main pumping chamber, and is caused by stressful emotional triggers that often follow traumatic events, such as the death of a loved one or separation from the family.
One of the main findings was that the rare and sometimes fatal heart disease is a much bigger cause of death for women than for men.
Researchers say the feeling of really breaking your heart could in rare cases be a potentially fatal heart condition called Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, also called breaking heart syndrome – and yes, extreme grief could be a cause
Data from several studies shows that women are nine times more likely to die from broken heart syndrome than men – especially after menopause, Monash University professor Sam El-Osta told Daily Mail Australia.
“We think this is related to hormonal regulation – our hormones regulate gene expression and have a tremendous impact on causing damage to the heart,” he said.
Professor El-Osta said studies from Asian countries do not show such a wide gender distribution based on the condition – meaning it was possible for both culture and gender to be influential.
“Women in Western countries are much more likely than men to experience the condition if they have broken heart syndrome, and much more likely to die,” said Mr El-Osta.
“But in Japan and other Asian countries, Takotsubo’s rates are more evenly distributed between men and women.”
Professor El-Osta said it was “possible” that cultural norms about men who show no emotion in Western countries could explain why men are less affected by the condition.
In broken heart syndrome, ‘rising stress hormones flow into the heart’ and stop left ventricular contraction as normal – mimicking a heart attack, with chest pain and shortness of breath. Experts say during an episode the affected part of the heart enlarges and resembles a ‘Japanese octopus trap’ (see picture)
Experts believe the condition is associated with ‘rising stress hormones that flood the heart’ and keep the left ventricle from contracting like normal.
It can even mimic a heart attack, with chest pain and shortness of breath – and be misdiagnosed.
Most patients recover within two months, but 20 percent die.
“This mythology that you can die of a broken heart comes from somewhere and we’ve considered it folklore, but it’s a real physiology – it’s really remarkable,” he said.
Broken heart syndrome is also known as stress-induced cardiomyopathy and apical balloon syndrome.
Professor El-Osta’s Monash team conducted a study using mice, showing that a drug approved for cancer treatment in Australia “dramatically improved heart health and reversed broken heart.”
In the landmark study, Suberanilohydroxamic acid, or SAHA, was used to target genes in the heart.
Suberanilohydroxamic acid is sold in Australia as Zonlinza vorinostat as a treatment for patients with T cell lymphoma. It was created by Merck Sharp & Dohme.
Research from the United States and Australia shows that women are disproportionately affected – especially after menopause, which typically occurs between the ages of 45 and 55.
However, it has not been approved for sale as a treatment for broken heart syndrome, and Professor El-Osta said it was unlikely to happen.
“However, we are focused on the continued development of compounds like SAHA to improve heart benefit and healthier living,” he said.
Professor El-Osta said more research needed to be done on the condition, as well as women’s health in general.
“It is clear that there is a molecular biology associated with heart failure and it is known to be caused by stressful mental health situations,” he said.
Including extremely emotional reactions that follow, for example, divorce, divorce or hearing about the death of someone special.
The mind and heart are really connected – really connected. We know that now. ‘
Professor El-Osta said it was “possible” that anyone who feels chest pain after a fracture event has a mild form of broken heart syndrome, but “this remains poorly researched and thus poorly understood.”
The syndrome causes weakening of the left ventricle, the heart’s main pumping chamber, and is caused by stressful emotional triggers that often follow traumatic events.
Another recent study said the condition can also occur with extreme stress caused by heightened emotions.
Since this relatively rare condition was first described in 1990, there is some evidence that it is usually caused by episodes of severe emotional distress, such as sadness, anger or fear, or reactions to happy or joyful events, ” wrote the European Heart Journal. in March.