New Study Shows an Increase in the Cases of Broken Heart Syndrome

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Photo contributed to U.S. Air Force by Senior Airman Preston Webb

The coronavirus pandemic, which began around six months ago, now has over thirteen million confirmed cases around the world with a rising death toll. In the middle of the crisis, experts have noted a rise in various other health conditions as well including the Broken Heart Syndrome.

At the beginning of the crisis, health professionals warned that the epidemic is likely to pave the way for another epidemic related to mental health.

The fear of contracting the virus and the consequences of preventive measures including the lockdown will take a toll on the mental health of people, say, psychologists, and mental health experts.

Mental health disorders including depression and anxiety disorder have risen dramatically in all age groups. Factors including economic uncertainty and isolation are likely to be the biggest contributors to the diseases.

The effects of the crisis on mental health can last many years. In addition, mental diseases are also likely to increase the risk of other health conditions.

For instance, the new study, whose findings appear in the journal JAMA Network Open, highlights the increase in cases of a health condition called the Broken Heart Syndrome.

Broken Heart Syndrome also called stress cardiomyopathy, is a cardiac condition that can be life-threatening and is usually triggered upon a sudden wave of intense emotions.

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In accordance with the findings of the study, nearly 7.8% of the patients reporting to hospitals since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic with signs similar to that of a cardiovascular condition such as heart attack had the syndrome.

The increase has been dramatic considering the percentage of people who were noted to have the syndrome prior to the pandemic was less than two percent. Only 1.5 to 1.8 percent of the patients with heart-attack symptoms had broken heart syndrome.

According to the authors, the research shows yet another negative impact of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic on public health.

The Cleveland Clinic cardiologist and the leading investigator of the study, Dr. Ankur Kalra explains “The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about multiple levels of stress in people’s lives across the country and world. This can have physical effects on our bodies and our hearts”

Kalra along with colleagues reached this conclusion after investigating approximately two thousand patients. They also examined and compared the hospital admissions of patients prior to the pandemic and during it.

The majority of the people who were reportedly diagnosed with the Broken Heart Syndrome did not have the coronavirus infection. The team states that this shows an indirect, psychological, social, and economic pandemic-related stress mechanism behind the disease process.”

Broken Heart Syndrome is very similar to a heart attack and can be just as deadly, according to Dr. F. Gerard Moeller, who is a Harvard Health psychiatrist.

Dr. Moeller further while scientists do not fully understand the mechanism behind the event, they agree it can be life-threatening and the biggest contributor is stress.

The stress is usually from an event such as a family or friend’s death and the symptoms begin to appear within twenty-four hours of the event. Usually, the patients recover if medical attention is sought on time.

 

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