Broken heart syndrome

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Broken heart syndrome: What is it?

October 22, 2018 - 4:00 am

KYW’s Medical Reports Sponsored By Independence Blue Cross. 

By Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) -- It's called broken heart syndrome. 

As its name suggests, it can be brought on by stressful situations including the death of a loved one. The symptoms of broken heart syndrome can imitate a heart attack, and common symptoms include chest pain and shortness of breath. 

We are not sure of the cause of broken heart syndrome. Many feel it's the result of a surge of epinephrine or adrenaline, the stress hormone. Physiologically, the cause is a constriction or narrowing of large or small arteries that provide the heart with oxygen. 

As physicians, it is very difficult to tell the difference between broken heart syndrome and other cardiac events. In fact, it is extremely important that anyone suffering from symptoms such as chest pain, pain radiating to the arm or other classic cardiac issues called 911 and be seen immediately.