‘Broken Heart Syndrome’ Spikes
A life-threatening cardiac condition is known as “broken heart syndrome”, has spiked significantly during the coronavirus pandemic than previous periods, according to a new study published in the journal JAMA Network Open from Cleveland Clinic, IFLScience.com reports.
Also known as stress cardiomyopathy, this condition occurs in response to physical or emotional stress and causes dysfunction or failure in the heart muscle. Patients typically experience symptoms similar to a heart attack, but usually do not have acutely blocked coronary arteries. Other symptoms include irregular heartbeat, fainting, low blood pressure, and cardiogenic shock.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about multiple levels of stress in people’s lives across the country and world. People are not only worried about themselves or their families becoming ill, they are dealing with economic and emotional issues, societal problems and potential loneliness and isolation,” Ankur Kalra, M.D., a Cleveland Clinic cardiologist in the Sections of Invasive and Interventional Cardiology and Regional Cardiovascular Medicine, who led the study, said in a statement. “The stress can have physical effects on our bodies and our hearts, as evidenced by the increasing diagnoses of stress cardiomyopathy we are experiencing.”
For the study, cardiologists looked at 258 patients who came into the Cleveland Clinic and Cleveland Clinic Akron General with heart symptoms known as an acute coronary syndrome (ACS) and compared them with four control groups of ACS patients prior to the pandemic. They found a significant increase in instances of “broken heart syndrome”, reaching 7.8% compared to the pre-pandemic incidence of 1.7%. While there was no significant difference in mortality between the groups, however, pre-pandemic patients were in the hospital for much shorter periods of time.
“While the pandemic continues to evolve, self-care during this difficult time is critical to our heart health, and our overall health,” Grant Reed, M.D., M.Sc., director of Cleveland Clinic’s STEMI program and senior author for the study, said. “For those who feel overwhelmed by stress, it’s important to reach out to your healthcare provider. Exercise, meditation, and connecting with family and friends, while maintaining physical distance and safety measures, can also help relieve anxiety.”
Researchers say more studies are needed in this area, particularly to determine if this trend is present in other parts of the country. For more information please visit: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17857-broken-heart-syndrome