Broken heart syndrome

Broken heart syndrome is a temporary heart condition that's often brought on by stressful situations, such as the death of a loved one. People with broken heart syndrome may have sudden chest pain or think they're having a heart attack. In broken heart syndrome, there's a temporary disruption of your heart's normal pumping function, while the remainder of the heart functions normally or with even more forceful contractions.

Broken heart syndrome may be caused by the heart's reaction to a surge of stress hormones. The condition may also be called takotsubo cardiomyopathy, apical ballooning syndrome or stress cardiomyopathy by doctors.

The symptoms of broken heart syndrome are treatable, and the condition usually reverses itself in about a week.

Symptoms Causes Risk factors Complications Prevention

Broken heart syndrome symptoms can mimic a heart attack. Common symptoms include:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath

Any long-lasting or persistent chest pain could be a sign of a heart attack, so it's important to take it seriously and call 112 if you experience chest pain.

When to see a doctor

If you're having any chest pain, a very rapid or irregular heartbeat, or shortness of breath after a stressful event, call 112 or emergency medical assistance immediately.

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