High school sweethearts, two hearts as one, together for a lifetime. Then one dies, followed closely by the other. Can a person die of a broken heart?
There is always discussion about it by someone in most families–they talk about a family member or neighbor who died suddenly soon after the death of their spouse. They say that he or she died of a broken heart. Is this fact or fiction? Can a person actually die of a broken heart?
A Lifetime Together – Two Hearts as One
The couples that this happens to usually are the ones that have been together for a great number of years. Many may have been high school sweet hearts, got married in their late teens and were lifetime companions, going through all the ups and downs that life had to offer. They loved each other, worked, raised kids, suffered loss, traveled, played, laughed, cried and lived–they did all these things together. After a while, they truly appeared to become so close that they were one instead two. It is easy to understand the incredible loss and heartbreak felt by the other when one of them dies.
Is it possible to die of a broken heart?
Most people have known at least a few such close couples, either within their own family or within their circle of acquaintances. Also, most people have known someone or heard stories about someone who died of a broken heart, someone apparently previously healthy who seemed unable to face living after the death of his or her partner. So, just how far-fetched is this notion of dying of a broken heart? Is it just an old wives’ tale, or is there some credibility to it?
Stress Cardiomyopathy or Broken Heart Syndrome
Although it is not a routine occurrence, it turns out that a person can die of a broken heart or at least the stress created by that broken heart. This condition is commonly known as broken heart syndrome and the medical term is stress cardiomyopathy. It usually occurs shortly after an extremely stressful event such as extraordinary fear, surprise, anger, or overwhelming grief at the death of a loved one. This stress sometimes causes acute heart muscle weakness. The patient has the classic symptoms of a heart attack, including the chest pains and shortness of breath; however, further tests often reveal none of the blockages or clots that are normally present during a heart attack. Stress cardiomyopathy is a serious condition and is fatal in a small percentage of cases.
Dying of a broken heart is not total fiction as some might think. It can happen. It occurs most often with older people, but it can also happen with younger individuals. The good news is that most people who suffer from broken heart syndrome or stress cardiomyopathy make a quick and full recovery with no permanent damage to their heart.
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