You really CAN die of heartbreak: Texas teacher’s widower dies from medical phenomenon
The family of a widower whose wife was shot to death in the Texas school massacre say he died of a “broken heart.”
Joe Garcia, 43, was pronounced dead Thursday, just hours after visiting the memorial site in Uvalde where his wife Irma was killed two days earlier.
While preparing for the funeral, Garcia collapsed and died.
Although the exact circumstances have yet to be revealed, Ms Garcia’s cousin, Debra Austin, said: “I truly believe that Joe died of a broken heart and losing the love of his life for over 25 years was too much to bear.” .
Broken heart syndrome is a real phenomenon.
The condition occurs when the body is overwhelmed by stress hormones such as adrenaline and noradrenaline, according to Helen Wilson, head of research at the charity Heart Research UK.
Excess adrenaline can weaken your heart muscle and thin your arteries, significantly reducing their ability to pump blood throughout your body.
When the body does not have enough blood, vital organs can stop working.
Broken heart syndrome, medically known as takotsubo cardiomyopathy, affects up to 3,000 Britons and 11,000 Americans each year. Bereavement, divorce, and even bankruptcy can be triggers.
But it is usually not fatal, and most patients recover within weeks. It is estimated that only one percent die from the condition.
Joe Garcia (right), who was married to fourth-grade teacher Irma Garcia (left), died Thursday of a broken heart, his family says.
Broken heart syndrome, known medically as takotsubo cardiomyopathy, affects around 3,000 Britons and 11,000 Americans each year. Causes part of the heart to enlarge to resemble a ‘Japanese octopus trap’
WHAT IS BROKEN HEART SYNDROME?
Broken heart syndrome, known medically as stress-induced cardiomyopathy or takotsubo syndrome, occurs when the heart fails due to extreme stress.
It is usually triggered by an emotional event such as the death of a loved one.
The condition affects around 3,000 people a year in the UK and 11,000 in the US, and is more common in women than men.
It causes part of the heart to temporarily enlarge, preventing the organ from pumping blood properly. You can make it stop completely.
Although broken heart syndrome is not caused by disease and is not related to blocked arteries or high blood pressure, it is believed that it can cause lasting damage by weakening the heart and impairing its pumping motion.
Cardiomyopathy UK spokesman Dr Daniel Hammersley said: “Patients who develop this condition typically experience symptoms of chest pain or shortness of breath.
“Fortunately, in the vast majority of cases, heart muscle function recovers within a few weeks. It is a rare condition in general. It most often affects people in their 50s or 60s, although it has been seen in other age groups.’
Professor Sian Harding, an expert in cardiac pharmacology at Imperial College London, told MailOnline that the surge of adrenaline from emotional shock is “well known” as part of broken heart syndrome.
“Bereavement is often a trigger, but the hugely shocking and tragic circumstances here would have magnified the effect,” he said.
Takotsubo symptoms can feel similar to a heart attack, causing sudden, severe chest pain, shortness of breath, and palpitations.
But the rare condition is not caused by blocked arteries, as heart attacks usually are.
Instead, the adrenaline rush shuts down the lower part of the left ventricle, its main pumping chamber.
Unable to contract, the lower part of the ventricle swells out.
This characteristic shape is visible on X-rays of the heart and is key to diagnosing the syndrome.
It’s what led Japanese researchers in 1990 to name it after a ‘takotsubo’, a traditional narrow-necked, wide-bottomed pot used to catch octopus when fishing.
Garcia, who was also a teacher, was filmed visiting a memorial to his late wife with red roses two days after her death, just hours before his own.
At one point, Mr. Garcia was seen crying over the horrible events of the week.
John Martinez, Ms. Garcia’s nephew, said that Mr. Garcia died of “pain” after returning home from delivering flowers at a memorial for his late wife.
But he also told the New York Times that his uncle had died of a heart attack.
A GoFundMe page established to help her four orphaned children: Cristian, 23; Joseph, 19; Liliana, 16; and Alysandra, 12, has so far raised more than $1.7m (£1.35m).
Broken heart syndrome is difficult to diagnose and is often mistaken for a heart attack.
Blood tests and scans are usually required to confirm this. usually it is ttemporary and most patients recover within a few weeks.
Helen Ross, from Canterbury in Kent, nearly died of a broken heart in 2006 after discovering her partner of seven years was leaving her for a friend.
Just days after the breakup, the model collapsed on a work trip to Orlando, Florida on the first day of a photo shoot.
The photo shoot staff called an ambulance and she was rushed to the hospital, where she woke up 30 minutes later.
The doctors informed her that her heart had stopped beating twice and they were shocked at her case as she was a healthy young woman.
They asked him if he had suffered a recent trauma that could have triggered the heart problem, and when he explained the rupture, he was diagnosed with broken heart syndrome.
Mrs Ross said at the time: ‘I told them how hard the breakup had been for me, how devastated I was and they nodded and immediately said it was my fault.
She added: “I felt distraught over the breakup, but I didn’t realize that it had really broken my heart.”
When she returned to the UK, Ms Ross had a pacemaker fitted to regulate her heart, which she had removed in 2014 without further complications.
The condition can also be treated with medications, such as beta-blockers and ACE inhibitors, to relieve stress on the heart and make it work more effectively.
Blood thinners may also be prescribed to reduce the risk of developing blood clots, which can cause a stroke.
Broken heart syndrome is usually temporary, and most patients recover within a few weeks.
Another British woman was struck by the condition twice.
Sarah Woodward, a veterinary nurse, suffered a stabbing chest pain while working in 2018, after receiving a phone call to inform her that her best friend’s father had died.
Mrs Woodward, from Worthing, West Sussex, said: “I have known him for 45 years. It was like losing my own father.
His chest pain spread to his back, jaw and left arm and he was having trouble breathing, all classic signs of a heart attack.
But after she was rushed to hospital in an ambulance, tests confirmed that she was indeed suffering from broken heart syndrome.
He was prescribed ACE inhibitors, beta blockers, and blood thinners.
However, it became one in 10 patients to experience a recurrence of broken heart syndrome.
About three years after his first episode, he felt the same stabbing pain in his chest. after receiving disturbing news about an unrelated medical condition.
Now he suffers from chest pain and shortness of breath and lives in fear of having another attack.