Can a heart really break?
The end of a relationship, an unrequited love or the death of a loved one – they can all break your heart. At least proverbially. But does this emotional pain also manifest itself physically?
The syndrome of a broken heart is indeed familiar to cardiologists. This stress-induced cardiomyopathy is similar to a heart attack. The body releases large amounts of the stress hormones adrenaline and noradrenaline. The left ventricle – the primary pumping chamber of the heart – inflates while the base of the heart contracts. In addition, the small arteries of the heart may narrow and heart cells may beat abnormally.
Fortunately, the syndrome is usually temporary and does not tend to lead to long-term heart damage. Almost exclusively women are affected, probably due to their more frequent hormonal imbalances – especially once they have reached the menopause.
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This article first appeared in uniFOKUS, the new University of Bern print magazine. Four times a year, uniFOKUS shows what academia and science are capable of. Thematically, each issue focuses on one specialist area from different points of view and thus aims to bring together as much expertise and as many research results from scientists and other academics at the University of Bern as possible.
About the person
is a senior physician at the University Clinic for Cardiology at Inselspital. He studied at Charles University in Prague and did his clinical training in Germany. He completed his further training as a cardiologist and did his doctorate at the University of Bern.
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