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“Broken heart syndrome” surging in women

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – A dangerous cardiac condition known as “broken heart syndrome” is surging in women and it’s very different from the type of heartache that comes after a breakup.

Broken heart syndrome is a physical manifestation characterized by a sudden, temporary flood of emotions–whether it’s grief, sadness, or disbelief. These emotions initiate a tidal wave of hormones that then infiltrate a woman’s body.

But why are women disproportionately more susceptible to broken heart syndrome than men?

“Research actually indicates that estrogen is protective for women,” Dr. Heather Fretwell, psychiatrist at Eskenazi Health, told News 8. “The post-menopausal drop is a statistical risk factor for women over the age of 55 when we aren’t producing as much estrogen to help nourish and nurture our heart.”

Fretwell says common signs of broken heart syndrome include sudden chest pain, shortness of breath, and an irregular heartbeat. 

According to Fretwell, 90% of cases are reversible. With proper intervention such as medication and counseling, a woman can get back to a normal and healthy functioning heart.