Does Heartbreak Have an Actual Effect on You?
February 13, 2018
Where there is love, there is (unfortunately) heartbreak. When a loved one leaves us, no matter how it may be, we feel it very genuinely. It can feel like a weight on our shoulders or pain in our chest. As we recently discussed with love, heartbreak can have a genuine physical effect on your body. As a matter of fact, heartbreak can even kill you. It’s a terrible thing to go through, but an inevitability of life. What does heartbreak do to you exactly? It can have a wide range of effects, both psychologically and physically, as the chemicals in your body attempt to balance themselves.
“What Does Heartbreak Do to Me?”
The American Heart Association refers to heartbreak as “Broken Heart Syndrome,” stress-induced cardiomyopathy or takotsubo cardiomyopathy. They note that Broken Heart Syndrome can strike even if you’re healthy, and is triggered by the loss of a loved one, or when a relationship ends. The syndrome is very treatable, and the risk is low (but still very real). Broken Heart Syndrome is characterized by a potential for severe, sudden heart failure. Its symptoms are more common in men than women, but that should neither increase nor decrease the worry in either gender. Broken Heart Syndrome might be mistaken for a heart attack, as the symptoms are very similar. The major differentiating factor between the two is the cause: a heart attack can occur suddenly but is preceded by other cardiovascular problems. Broken Heart Syndrome can lead to heart failure, but doesn’t require a history of heart problems.
This isn’t the only difference between the two, though. If an EKG is given, results will differ between someone suffering from a heart attack and someone suffering from Broken Heart Syndrome. Tests should show no signs of damage because of Broken Heart Syndrome: there will be no damage to the heart, blockage of coronary arteries, or any unusual movement in the heart’s chambers.
The most common symptoms of Broken Heart Syndrome are angina and shortness of breath. Angina is a form of chest pain that occurs when there isn’t enough blood flow to heart, typically caused by a blockage of veins and arteries. In the case of Broken Heart Syndrome, angina may instead be caused by the slowing of a heartbeat. Angina is a dull, aching pain that fades quickly. It may feel like immense pressure or a squeezing on the heart. Angina itself is often not that bad in solidarity but is almost always a sign of something worse. Broken Heart Syndrome may also cause irregularities in your heartbeat, though this is a rare symptom.
“How Can Heartbreak Kill Me?”
Broken Heart Syndrome may cause the sufferer to go into cardiogenic shock. Cardiogenic shock is similar to a heart attack, and can be a symptom of one. Cardiogenic shock occurs when your heart suddenly can’t, or refuses to, pump enough blood. Any emergency room or urgent care center should be equipped to handle cardiogenic shock, but it does need to be treated immediately — otherwise, death is nearly certain.
The earliest signs of cardiogenic shock are rapid breathing, and sudden, intense, angina. You may also experience tachycardia or a quick and significant rise in heartbeat. You may notice that your hands and/or feet go cold, and your skin becomes pale. Your blood pressure will drop, and your pulse will be weak (despite being fast). Sweating is also common, as is a lack of urination. In its late stages, cardiogenic shock will cause a loss of consciousness.
“How Can I Cope with Heartbreak?”
Cardiogenic shock and broken heart syndrome occur because of a sudden influx of stress hormones to the heart. The sudden bad news causes a release of hormones, which can lead to shut down in the heart. If you are seeing symptoms of Broken Heart Syndrome after the loss of a loved one or any other traumatic event, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. There is simply no home remedy for heart failure, and the risk is too high.
If you are going through heartbreak but not suffering from Broken Heart Syndrome, you won’t need a doctor. Instead, maybe try out these tips from 5 fantastic psychologists. The best way to rid yourself of the negative feelings is to try something new, go on an adventure. Look for new people, and learn how to be alone. Set new goals, and work to achieve them. Chocolate helps, too.