Broken Hearts [Radio Scotland]


2014120320141204 (RS)
20150219 (RS)

Edi Stark explores broken heart syndrome, which is bought on by stress or shock.

A study at St Andrews University discovered that the risk of death surges anywhere from 30 to 50 per cent during the first six months after a spouse has pass passed away because of what's known as 'broken heart syndrome'. The researchers followed 58,000 couples since 1991, and in effect, coined the ""Widowhood effect,"" a condition that afflicts spouses in mourning, regardless of age. 40% of women and 26% of men surveyed died within three years of losing their spouse and 12 died on the same day. Dr Alexander Lyon a consultant cardiologist at the Royal Brompton has been involved in another study, which shows that the risk of dying suddenly from a cardiac arrest is 16 times higher the day after losing a spouse. Dr Lyons explains that a rush of overwhelming fear or extreme pain are the types of shock that may lead to a catastrophic heart failure. But it's not just ""bad"" emotions that can trigger ""broken heart syndrome"" it could equally be the shock of intense, unexpected happiness, such as winning the lottery. We speak to Yvonne Matienko who after seeing a crash and realising her daughter was involved suffered 'broken heart syndrome'. The trigger for the syndrome also called stress cardiomyopathy or takotsubi cardiomyopathy is the body's sudden, massive release of adrenaline, which can ""stun"" the bottom half of the main pumping chamber of the heart in effect paralysing it and requiring the top portion of the chamber to work much harder to compensate. We also hear from Dr Sadip Pant who has discovered that the stress of natural disasters can also break people's hearts. Dr Pant says that broken hearts syndrome is a perfect example of our brain- heart connection and highlights the emotional stress we have in our brain can lead to responses in the heart.