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Your Healthy Family: COVID-19 Stress Leads to Rise in Broken Heart Syndrome, Study Says

Posted at 4:42 PM, Jul 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-10 18:42:19-04

CLEVELAND, OHIO — It’s no secret, we’re living in stressful times.

That stress could be leading to more broken hearts.

A recent study found cases of broken heart syndrome, also called stress cardiomyopathy, doubled in the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

Cleveland Clinic cardiologist Ankur Kalra, M.D. explains we all react to stress differently.

“Each time we have a stress response, it’s the fight or flight response, and the adrenaline goes up, and how one reacts to that emotionally is different, but how our organs react to it is different as well,” he said.

Broken heart syndrome has symptoms similar to a heart attack, including shortness of breath or chest pain.

However, people with broken heart syndrome usually do not have blocked arteries.

Instead, stress changes the shape of the heart, which affects its ability to pump blood effectively.

Cleveland Clinic researchers found cases of broken heart syndrome doubled in two of their hospitals in March and April of 2020 – just as the coronavirus pandemic started in the U.S.

We are all experiencing different types of stress, from job loss to social isolation and even concerns about ourselves or loved ones getting COVID-19.

Dr. Kalra said it’s important to deal with stress through self-care, including exercise, meditation and prayer.

“I’m sure for all of us, there are going to be trying times in our lives – loss of a loved one, stressors at work, sudden loss of a job or economic losses,” said Dr. Kalra. “Each time, with any of these stressors, it’s extremely important to connect with your inner-self. And, as glossy or as sugar coated as it may sound, there is science behind it to show that it actually works.”

It’s also important to stay connected with family and friends virtually, or on the phone.

Complete results of the study can be found in JAMA Network Open.