Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Yes, You Can Die Of A Broken Heart

There are many factors that contribute to a condition known as Broken Heart Syndrome.  Although it has been around for centuries, the medical profession has only begun to recognize it as a medical condition since the 1990's. 

They believe the condition is brought on by an adrenaline rush that happens shortly after a severe stressful situation. The left ventricle of the heart takes on a cone-like shape which resembles the shape of a pot the Japanese use to capture octopus called “tako-tsubo” which means “fishing pot for trapping octopus. “Tako-tsubo Cardiomyopathy” is now Broken Heart Syndrome's medical name.

Wikipedia defines it as sudden temporary weakening of the myocardium (the muscle of the heart). This weakening can be triggered by emotional stress such as the death of a loved one. Stress cardiomyopathy is a well-recognized cause of acute heart failure.

A study completed by Harvard Medical School provided the definitive part of this subject. Perhaps you know of someone who was married for several decades and died shortly after the death of their significant other. This is not an uncommon scenario.

Some of the symptoms of Broken Heart Syndrome:

Physical symptoms may include:

Chest pain and pressure
Shortness of breath
Arrhythmia (heart rhythm problems)
Stomach pain, nausea and/or loss of appetite
Death (in extreme cases)

Psychological effects of broken heart syndrome may include:

Constant or frequent crying
Thoughts of suicide
Feelings of emptiness

Two of the most common causes of Broken Heart Syndrome are the loss of a spouse or a child. Scientists have shown that after such an incident, heart attack risks increased to 21 times higher than normal within the first day and were almost six times higher than normal within the first week. Stress and lack of sleep after the death of a loved one increase the risks of heart failure. Interestingly, it is more common for men than women.

It is extremely difficult to counsel or comfort someone who is suffering from this syndrome because they believe the only solution is to bring their loved one back. Anything short of that does little to console them.

@BatteredHope Losing a child

It has been my experience that within the boundaries of a family suffering such a loss, each member reacts differently. Some get angry. Another may turn inward and become distant to other family members. Some may take on the role of guilt and cannot overcome it. The feeling of helplessness is almost always a factor in each case and can become so overwhelming that it consumes every area of its victim's life.
Can Time Heal All Wounds?

The adage states “Time heals all wounds” but very often this works in reverse for someone suffering from a broken heart. There are triggers that can pole vault him/her back to the initial pain. Birthdays, anniversaries and holidays are most common.

There are a lot of internet sites that deal with this trauma that give coping mechanisms. These are certainly helpful to a point, but this type of loss is different than any other because the person who is gone can never be replaced. This is what creates the feeling of hopelessness.

It is an occurrence in life that rarely, if ever, one completely heals, and it is difficult to empathize unless you have personally experienced it. Patience, and more patience, is the best soother to help someone through this trauma.

The scar will always be there, even though the scab may be gone.

Losing my child was only one loss I suffered in a sea of failures. The storms kept raging and I had to tap into strength I did not know I possessed in order to win against marital abuse, rape, financial ruin, jail and a suicide attempt.  Battered Hope is my story - a fast paced memoir of conflict, suspense, hope, perseverance and faith.

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