Broken heart syndrome is surging amid Covid, medical experts warn

The condition is caused by intense stress causing a flood of hormones that stuns the heart

Graig Graziosi
Monday 07 February 2022 22:12 GMT
Related video: Texas woman waits 18 hours in line for covid test

"Broken heart syndrome" is reportedly spiking amid the coronavirus pandemic, especially among women, according to a research conducted by several top American medical centres.

ABC News reports that the syndrome – which is a "potentially deadly stress-induced heart condition" – is spiking due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Mark Kay Abramson, 63, was recently diagnosed with the condition – real name Takotsubo cardiomyopathy – and shared her experiences with ABC News.

"My heart felt like it was pounding out of my chest," she said. "It just felt like the blood just couldn't get through the heart fast enough."

She said that her doctors asked her if she had been under a lot of stress, noting that her arteries seemed fine. She explained that she was feeling extremely stressed, mostly due to complications caused by the pandemic.

"So, yeah, a little bit: I've been furloughed for three months. Covid is going on. You know, can't get out and do things. We're shut down. So, yeah, I have been under a lot of stress!" she told her doctors.

According to doctors, the disorder is brought on by intense emotional or physical stress caused by a flood of hormones. The condition can be deadly, as it causes the heart to pump blood less efficiently.

Dr Noel Bairey Merz, the director of the Barbra Streisand Heart Centre at Cedars-Sinai hospital in Los Angeles, told the outlet that more research is needed to determine whether or not the spike in diagnoses is a direct result of the pandemic.

"I don't know how much we can really blame Covid, or how much of this is that we're just recognizing more of it," she said. "But heart disease is the leading killer of women and all ages, including teenagers, midlife women and older women. This is just a component of that major killer. So it's really something that needs to be addressed."

The increase in diagnoses is significant; Dr Bairey Merz said that cases have risen up to 10 times faster among middle-aged and older woman than among younger women and men over the last decade.

A study by the American Heart Association from 2021 found that the majority of cases were in women between 50 and 74 years old. It found that about 88.3 per cent of the nearly 135,000 cases studied were in older women.

The condition, when serious, can leave people hospitalised for weeks as their hearts work to recover full efficiency. The condition can be fatal, but thankfully those cases are rare.

The doctor's research focus is on the connection between the brain and the heart. The syndrome is brought on by a physiological response to emotional stimuli.

"As cardiologists we always think the heart is the most important organ. It's the brain and the brain controls everything," she said.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in