Great happiness can hurt the heart

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Broken heart syndrome is not only related to negative emotional stress, but also to an intense emotion of joy, according to a Swiss study.

Sad episodes like death or a breakup aren't the only ones that make your heart ache to the point of jeopardizing your health. Broken heart syndrome, or takotsubo, described by a Japanese team in 1990, is characterized by cardiomyopathy that occurs after emotional stress and can lead to a heart attack. If researchers had previously associated this pathology with shocking and tragic events such as grief, great anger or great fear, now they know that strong positive emotions can also be responsible. This disorder has been called "happy heart syndrome."

The study authors, whose results were published by the European Society of Cardiology, The European Heart Journal, analyzed data from 1,750 patients from nine different countries registered in the international takotsubo registry. They found that 485 patients suffered from broken heart syndrome as a result of emotional shock. In 4% of them, the emotions in question were positive. They were surprise birthday parties, weddings, farewells, rugby matches or the birth of grandchildren. In the remaining 96%, the syndrome occurred after a stressful event.


Another observation: Most patients are postmenopausal women, regardless of whether the heart disorder occurred after positive or negative emotion. According to study co-author Jelena Ghadri of the Swiss University Hospital Eurich, "Doctors should be aware that patients who come to the emergency department with signs of a heart attack, such as chest pain and shortness of breath, but after a happy emotion or event, you can also suffer from broken heart syndrome. "

Although these results provide interesting information, the authors are aware of the limitations caused by the small number of participants. They hope to expand their research to better understand the mechanism at play in broken heart syndrome.

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