DETROIT – It’s no secret that we’re living in stressful times, and it seems like that could be leading to more broken hearts.
A new study finds cases of ‘broken heart syndrome’ have increased during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Each time we have a stress response, it’s the fight or flight response, and the adrenaline goes up, and how one reacts, how one reacts to that emotionally is different, but how our organs react to it is different as well,” said Dr. Ankur Kalra, a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic.
That includes the heart.
Broken heart syndrome has symptoms similar to a heart attack, like shortness of break or chest pains. However, people with broken heart syndrome don’t usually have blocked arteries. Instead, stress changes the shape of the heart, which affects its ability to pump blood effectively.
Cleveland Clinic researchers found cases have doubled in two of their hospitals in March and April, just as the coronavirus pandemic started in the United States.
Stress is on the rise -- from job loss to social isolation to fears about COVID-19. According to experts, it’s important to find ways to manage that stress using things like exercise, meditation, therapy or religion.
“It’s extremely important to connect with your inner-self. And, as glossy or as sugar coated as it may sound, it actually really works and there is science behind that to show that it actually really works,” Kalra said.
Doctors also want to remind people it’s important not to ignore symptoms like chest pain or shortness of breath.
Hospitals are taking strict precautions to protect patients from the coronavirus and are urging people to seek care quickly for heart symptoms and any other emergencies.