Cases of 'broken heart syndrome' among middle-aged and older women are up ten-fold

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Cases of ‘broken heart syndrome’ among middle-aged and older women are up during the Covid pandemic as a result of increased stress, experts warn

  • Researchers at three different hospital systems have discovered upticks in cases of ‘broken heart syndrome’
  • Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, as it is medically defined as, is often caused by stress or grief
  • Older and middle aged women are most at risk of the condition, and have accounted for the recent uptick in cases
  • It is yet another sign of the deterioration of American’s mental health during the pandemic, paired with a surge in depression, anxiety and drug overdoses 


‘Heart break syndrome’, a potentially deadly cardio vascular condition, is beginning to spike among middle age and older women, experts warn.

Takotsubo cardiomyopathy is a rare heart condition that can be caused by stressful or grief induced events.

Top U.S. medical centers have reported seeing a surge in cases of the condition during the pandemic, especially among women aged 40 and older.

Many of the women were relatively healthy, but stress and grief caused by loss and general disruption of life during the pandemic has caused many to develop the condition.

Experts have detected a spike in cases of 'Takotsubo cardiomyopathy', or broken heart syndrome, in middle aged and older women. They believe is has been caused by pandemic related stress. (file photo)

Experts have detected a spike in cases of ‘Takotsubo cardiomyopathy’, or broken heart syndrome, in middle aged and older women. They believe is has been caused by pandemic related stress. (file photo)

Mary Kay Abramson, 63, of Maryland, told her doctor that she was feeling her heart rapidly beating and described it as a feeling that it would come out her chest, according to an ABC report.

When she went to a doctor for treatment, they could not find any issues in her arteries – the usual cause of such a problem – and said the stressors in her life may be affecting her heart.

‘I’ve been furloughed for three months. COVID is going on. You know, can’t get out and do things. We’re shut down. So, yeah, I have been under a lot of stress!’ she told ABC.

While takoysubo cardiomyopathy is generally rare, researchers at three major U.S. hospital systems are all warning that the country is experiencing a massive surge in cases. 

‘I don’t know how much we can really blame COVID, or how much of this is that we’re just recognizing more of it,’ Dr Noel Bairey Merz, director of the Barbra Streisand Heart Center at Cedars-Sinai, told ABC. 

‘But heart disease is the leading killer of women and all ages, including teenagers, midlife women and older women. 

‘This is just a component of that major killer. So it’s really something that needs to be addressed.’ 

Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles, Cleveland Clinic and Johns Hopkins have all been recording cases of the condition.

ABC reports that the systems have found a sharp, ten-fold, increase of the condition among older women. Men and younger women have not been affected to anywhere near the same degree.

The condition causes less than 0.3 percent of cardiac events every year, meaning it is still a minor factor overall for cardiologists. Its sudden rise is worrying, though, especially for women who are in high risk groups. 

It is yet another heart condition seeing a spike during the pandemic, though. And unlike increases in rates of other conditions, ‘broken heart syndrome’ is being found by people who never contracted the virus. 

A study published Monday by researcher at Washington University of St Louis found that even people who suffer mild Covid cases are at risk of developing coronary diseases of suffering a heart attack or stroke.

The pandemic has also had the ancillary effect of causing mental health issues for many people.

A surge of depression and anxiety have been reported during the pandemic, especially among younger people who had school and other regular social events cancelled.   

Drug overdose deaths surged as well, with 100,000 deaths being recorded in a 12 month span from April 2020 to April 2021, another sign of how pandemic related stressors had grotesque effects on Americans’ mental health.

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