JUL 09, 2020 10:28 PM PDT

Broken Heart Syndrome Found to Increase During Pandemic

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch

Reporting in JAMA Network Open, scientists have found that broken heart syndrome, called stress cardiomyopathy, has been increasing significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic. Broken heart syndrome can cause symptoms that are similar to a heart attack, like shortness of breath, chest pain, and congestive heart failure, but does not typically involve blockages in arteries, but the heart pumps irregularly. The condition can occur during periods of intense emotional or physical stress, and appears to be yet another health problem connected to SARS-CoV-2.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about multiple levels of stress in people's lives across the country and world. People are not only worried about themselves or their families becoming ill, they are dealing with economic and emotional issues, societal problems and potential loneliness and isolation," said study author Ankur Kalra, M.D., a Cleveland Clinic cardiologist in the Sections of Invasive and Interventional Cardiology and Regional Cardiovascular Medicine. "The stress can have physical effects on our bodies and our hearts, as evidenced by the increasing diagnoses of stress cardiomyopathy we are experiencing."

Doctors in Japan were the first to describe this condition, which they called takotsubo cardiomyopathy because of an affected heart's resemblance to the shape of a particular cooking pot; the left ventricle balloons. It's still not well understood but seems to happen after a shocking event, but has no apparent cause in other patients. It may be related to a surge of hormones. Death rates between those that suffer from these heart attacks are similar to patients with more common heart attacks, but patients can also recover within a month.

In this work, cardiologists studied 258 people that did not have COVID-19 and were treated at Cleveland Clinic and Cleveland Clinic Akron General for acute coronary syndrome (ACS) during March and April, and four groups of treated for ACS patients before the pandemic. The incidence of broken heart syndrome rose from 1.7 percent prior to COVID-19 and 7.8 percent after it started. Those that had stress cardiomyopathy during the pandemic were also hospitalized longer. There was no increase in the death rate.

"While the pandemic continues to evolve, self-care during this difficult time is critical to our heart health, and our overall health," said senior study author Grant Reed, M.D., M.Sc., director of Cleveland Clinic's STEMI (ST-elevation myocardial infarction) program. "For those who feel overwhelmed by stress, it's important to reach out to your healthcare provider. Exercise, meditation and connecting with family and friends, while maintaining physical distance and safety measures, can also help relieve anxiety."

Sources: AAAS/Eurekalert! via Cleveland Clinic, JAMA Network Open

About the Author
  • Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on 28 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 60 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
You May Also Like
JUN 07, 2020
Cardiology
Inflammation May Link Bad Sleep and Heart Disease
JUN 07, 2020
Inflammation May Link Bad Sleep and Heart Disease
New research begins to reveal how disrupted sleep leads to the fatty arterial plaque buildup known as atherosclerosis th ...
AUG 14, 2020
Cancer
Controlling Tumor Blood Flow to Increase Therapy Effectiveness
AUG 14, 2020
Controlling Tumor Blood Flow to Increase Therapy Effectiveness
Nowadays, most cancer drugs target a protein or inhibit a critical cellular process. Modern therapies have varying level ...
AUG 29, 2020
Cardiology
Protecting the Heart Against Damage from Mechanical Stress
AUG 29, 2020
Protecting the Heart Against Damage from Mechanical Stress
Heart failure is a traumatic event that can have long-lasting consequences. Often, after an adverse cardiac event, the h ...
SEP 22, 2020
Cardiology
Mosquito-Borne Illnesses are Linked to Stroke
SEP 22, 2020
Mosquito-Borne Illnesses are Linked to Stroke
Mosquitoes are major disease vectors; they are considered the world's deadliest animal because they kill so many people.
SEP 23, 2020
Cannabis Sciences
Hemp Seeds May Reduce Heart Disease Risk
SEP 23, 2020
Hemp Seeds May Reduce Heart Disease Risk
Heart disease is the leading cause of death around the world. And it seems that many methods to avoid it involve lifesty ...
OCT 08, 2020
Cardiology
Omega-3 Enriched Chicken as a Fish Alternative for Omega-3 Fatty Acids
OCT 08, 2020
Omega-3 Enriched Chicken as a Fish Alternative for Omega-3 Fatty Acids
We have all seen those articles telling us to get more omega-3 fatty acids in our diet. Many studies point to these spec ...
Loading Comments...