When a 62-year-old woman's dog died, her heart literally broke and almost killed her, and scientists say it's more common than you think.
As we reported recently, a Texas woman nearly died of a literal broken heart after he dog passed away from a condition called “broke heart syndrome.” And you may be surprised at how often this potentially deadly affliction happens, and who is most at risk.
Joanie Simpson went to the emergency room with severe chest pain last year, and doctors who were expecting to see signs of a heart attack were amazed to see her arteries were clear. Instead, they diagnosed her with takotsubo cardiomyopathy, or “broken heart syndrome,” according to a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Her only companion, a Yorkshire terrier named Meha, had recently died and she was taking his death hard.
It’s actually not that rare. Researchers found 256 cases of the condition in just seven hospitals in Europe and North America over a five-year period. Older people are more at risk, as the average age for those who get it is 69. Postmenopausal women were the highest risk group, making up 81 percent of cases, but it happens to men and to younger people as well.
“A 61-year-old woman with hypertension and hypothyroidism presented to the emergency department with acute onset of severe chest pain. She reported multiple recent stressors, including the death of her dog,” the abstract of the paper reads. “An electrocardiogram showed ST-segment elevation in the anterolateral leads. Emergency coronary angiography revealed normal coronary arteries. Left ventriculography (Video 1 and Panel A [showing diastole] and Panel B [showing systole]) and contrast echocardiography (Video 2) revealed severe hypokinesis in the apical segments and hyperdynamic basal segments, with an ejection fraction of 40 to 45%. A diagnosis of takotsubo cardiomyopathy was made.”