Heartbreaks can trigger heart attacks in the healthy
Feb 14, 2006 - 7:48:37 PM
Cardiologists in Singapore have issued a sober Valentine's Day warning that severe emotional or work stress can trigger heart attacks in healthy people.
A study conducted by the National University Hospital (NUH) in Singapore, along with other cardiac centres, appeared to confirm what men have long suspected - that women's hearts break more easily.
Women account for more than nine in 10 emotional heart attacks, according to the findings published in The Straits Times.
A "heartbreak" attack is different from a regular heart attack, which is usually caused by blocked arteries that restrict blood flow to the rest of the body, the cardiologists said.
An attack induced by emotion or stress is triggered by a surge of hormones, which causes only the top part of the heart to contract, reducing blood flow. This phenomenon was first discovered by Japanese researchers in 2001.
When an angiogram reveals the cause, a balloon pump helps the heart push blood to the rest of the body.
Time can help the victims of heartbreak, physically as well as emotionally.
Physicians recommended a victim be rushed to a hospital. If he or she gets there in time, the chances are very good that the heart will have recovered its resilience within a month, resulting in a full recovery and no side effects.
"We have come across cases like this before, but we thought it was caused by a very small clot, which disintegrated," senior cardiologist Tan Huay Cheem, one of the researchers, was quoted as saying.
The victims tend to have typical heart attack symptoms, such as chest pains. When doctors investigate, they find none of the classic problems such as blocked or narrowed arteries.
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