Cases Of Broken Heart Syndrome Increase Amid Pandemic Stress

August 19, 2020

The stress of a coronavirus pandemic can be heartbreaking.

Ohio cardiologists have found that during a coronavirus pandemic, the number of patients experiencing Takotsubo’s cardiomyopathy, or broken heart syndrome, increases four to five times compared to pre-pandemic levels, according to a small new study.

Broken heart syndrome is usually brought on by extreme physical or emotional distress and can lead to a sudden weakening of the heart muscles, according to the Live Science report. Symptoms may be similar to those of a heart attack, including chest pain and shortness of breath, according to the report.

The cause of broken heart syndrome is unknown, but according to the statement, it is thought that a physically or emotionally stressful event causes the body to release stress hormones that temporarily reduce the heart’s ability to pump properly.

Study co-author Dr. Ankur Kala, a cardiologist in the Cleveland Clinic’s Division of Invasive and Interventional Cardiology and Division of Regional Cardiovascular Medicine, said in the statement that the epidemic has led to “multiple levels of stress in people’s lives across the country and around the world.” Not only are people worried about themselves or a family member getting sick, they are also dealing with financial and emotional issues, social problems, and potential loneliness and isolation.”

In the new study, Kalra and his team analyzed data from 258 patients who came to the Cleveland Clinic and Cleveland Clinic Akron General Hospital with acute coronary syndrome (ACS) between March 1 and April 30, corresponding to the time period when the epidemic first started in the United States. They then compared these patients to four groups of ACS patients who visited the clinics before the pandemic: early March to late April 2018, early January to late February 2019, early March to late April 2019, and early January to late February 2020.

The researchers found that 7.8 percent of ACS patients were diagnosed with ruptured heart syndrome during the pandemic, compared with 1.5 to 1.8 percent before the pandemic. What’s more, they found that patients with ruptured heart syndrome during the pandemic had longer hospital stays than the pre-pandemic group.

However, the researchers did not find any difference in mortality rates. Most patients who develop the condition recover completely without permanent damage, but sometimes the condition can have lasting consequences that can, rarely, be fatal, the statement said. None of the patients diagnosed with ruptured heart syndrome were infected with the novel coronavirus.

“While this epidemic continues to evolve, self-care during this difficult time is critical to our heart health and our overall health,” senior author Dr. Grant Reed, director of the Cleveland Clinic’s ST-levation myocardial infarction program, said in the statement.” For those feeling stressed out, it’s important to reach out to your health care provider.”

In addition, “exercise, meditation and connecting with family and friends, while maintaining physical distance and safety measures, can also help alleviate anxiety,” he added.