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American Heart Association News: Broken Heart Syndrome Is on the Rise, Especially Among Older Women

American Heart Association News recently interviewed Susan Cheng, MD, MPH, MMSc, director of the Institute for Research on Healthy Aging in the Department of Cardiology at the Smidt Heart Institute, about an increase in cases of Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, which is being diagnosed in middle-aged and older women more frequently.

Takotsubo cardiomyopathy—also known as "broken heart syndrome"—can be triggered by emotional or physical stress. The symptoms, which include shortness of breath and chest pain, closely mirror the signs of a heart attack.

Research published by Cheng and her colleagues found that cases of broken heart syndrome increased steadily between 2006 and 2017. More medical professionals were becoming aware of the condition at the time, likely accounting for the increase in cases, Cheng told American Heart Association News. But she was surprised to find that diagnoses increased at least six to 10 times more rapidly for women ages 50 to 74 than for any other demographic.

"These skyrocketing rates are both intriguing and concerning," Cheng told American Heart Association News. She said the end of menopause in older women might play a role, as well as an uptick in overall stress.

Cheng's study ended before COVID-19 swept the globe, but she thinks stress from the pandemic likely has led to many new cases of broken heart syndrome.

"We know there have been profound effects on the heart-brain connection during the pandemic," she told American Heart Association News. "We are at the tip of the iceberg in terms of measuring what those are."

Click here to read the complete article from American Heart Association News.