Broken Heart Syndrome Is on the Rise Among Women — And It’s Much Worse Than It Appears

heart srndrome

You’re certainly aware that COVID-19 can cause a variety of serious complications in addition to the initial infection, ranging from hazardous organ inflammation to lengthy COVID. And, as we’ve all learned and possibly already experienced, the stress of simply being in the midst of a worldwide epidemic can have long-term consequences. That stress can be life-threatening for many women.

A recent article reported that “Broken heart syndrome,” a dangerous heart ailment caused by emotional stress, has increased during the pandemic, according to researchers from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, Johns Hopkins University, and Cleveland Clinic. Although data is still being gathered, one Cleveland Clinic study found that rates increased from less than 2% to nearly 8% during the pandemic. Because the disease is more common among women in general and during the pandemic, it’s critical to identify the risk factors.

What you should know about “broken heart syndrome” and how it affects women is outlined below.

What is “broken heart syndrome”?

The name may make it sound insignificant, yet nothing could be further from the truth. Stress cardiomyopathy, sometimes known as “broken heart syndrome,” is a type of heart attack. It can induce symptoms like shortness of breath, chest discomfort, and irregular cardiac rhythms, much like any other heart attack, but the processes are completely different.

So while pandemic stress is almost certainly contributing to the numbers, the surge could also be connected to Covid-19 infection itself, or due to people delaying their care for other medical issues during the pandemic.

A stress-induced heart attack can happen to anyone, but according to the American College of Cardiology, postmenopausal women make up 90% of stress cardiomyopathy cases.

The term also plays on healthcare inequities that women, especially women of color, face every day. Doctors are more likely to dismiss women’s chest pain or shortness of breath as psychosomatic, and anxiety can cause those things. Cardiomyopathy, on the other hand, is an actual medical emergency caused by stress. 

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