Le syndrome du cœur brisé existe-t-il vraiment ?

Does broken heart syndrome really exist?

Feb 26, 2024

The idea of ​​broken heart syndrome has long captivated minds. This association between the heart and intense emotions is deeply rooted in literature, poetry, and popular culture, where the heart is often depicted as the seat of human emotions, particularly love and pain. But what really is this notion? Is it a poetic concept or a medical reality?

Origin of Broken Heart Syndrome

Initially unrecognized, broken heart syndrome was often misunderstood, leading to misdiagnoses or inappropriate treatments, due to the similarity of its symptoms to those of a traditional heart attack . Some doctors were skeptical of its existence, considering it psychosomatic rather than a legitimate medical condition.

Over time, clinical observations revealed cases where emotionally traumatic events triggered heart attack symptoms in patients, without matching the typical patterns seen in heart attacks caused by arterial blockages.

Major recognition of this condition came in the 1990s, when Japanese researchers first described " Takotsubo syndrome ." This syndrome takes its name from the shape of the pot used to catch octopuses in Japan, due to the similarity to the silhouette of a broken heart. Since then, additional studies have been conducted to better understand the underlying mechanisms of this pathology, with advances in cardiac imaging and the establishment of more precise diagnostic criteria.

What is broken heart syndrome?

Broken heart syndrome, also known as stress cardiomyopathy , can occur after exposure to:

  • Major psychological stress , whether negative (such as bereavement, divorce, anger, anxiety, financial or professional problems, natural disasters, etc.) or positive (such as a happy surprise).
  • Intense physical stress , including events such as stroke, acute respiratory failure, trauma, intense sporting activity, cancer chemotherapy treatments, etc.

This syndrome is characterized by partial paralysis of the heart muscle, mainly caused by a massive release of stress hormones. This paralysis affects the heart's ability to contract. Women aged 50 and over are most affected . In fact, 80% of cases concern postmenopausal women. This vulnerability is explained by the increased sensitivity of their arteries to stress hormones (given the loss of their natural estrogen protection after menopause), thus increasing their propensity to spasm.

Symptoms of Takotsubo syndrome are often similar to those of an acute myocardial infarction, including chest pain , electrocardiogram changes, and elevated levels of troponin and creatine kinase in the blood. Other symptoms such as shortness of breath, palpitations, loss of consciousness and vagal discomfort may also be observed.

Broken heart syndrome is a transient condition that lasts about two weeks , provided there are no serious complications or mortality in the acute phase. In addition, it is generally completely reversible when cardiological treatment is early. However, due to the risk of complications, emergency hospitalization is necessary to avoid serious deterioration.

Main consequences and risks

The consequences of broken heart syndrome are far from trivial, putting people at significant risk of serious complications. During the acute phase, this syndrome has a mortality rate comparable to that of acute coronary syndromes, thus increasing the risk of cardiogenic shock. This severity is not ephemeral: in the long term, Takotsubo syndrome considerably increases the risk of secondary serious cardiovascular diseases , with a rate of 10% per patient per year after the initial episode. In addition, the risk of recurrence within three years following the acute episode is 5%.

At the same time, broken heart syndrome can have profound psychological repercussions, both for patients and those around them. The diagnosis of this sudden and life-threatening heart condition can come as a shock to many patients, causing considerable anxiety and a feeling of helplessness about their future and recovery. This stress cardiomyopathy can therefore lead to various emotional responses such as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress. The psychological aspect of the pathology is therefore important to take into account.

The importance of mental health

Given the close connection between psychological and physical health, it is imperative to recognize that neglecting one's mental health can have serious consequences on one's overall health . Stress, in particular, can place significant strain on the cardiovascular system , increasing the risk of developing conditions such as Takotsubo syndrome.

Therefore, it is essential to adopt strategies to manage stress and promote mental health. In addition to relaxation practices and wellness activities, herbal supplements can play a beneficial role in reducing stress and anxiety, providing natural mental health support.

In short, broken heart syndrome is not just a poetic concept, but a significant medical reality. Its identification and understanding has evolved over the years, from a largely unknown concept to an established medical condition. The repercussions of this stress cardiomyopathy go beyond the physical aspects, also profoundly affecting the mental health of affected individuals. It is therefore essential to recognize the importance of a holistic approach to health, taking care of both psychological and physical health.

References :

Jelena-Rima Ghadri, Ilan Shor Wittstein, Abhiram Prasad, Scott Sharkey, Keigo Dote, Yoshihiro John Akashi, Victoria Lucia Cammann, Filippo Crea, Leonarda Galiuto, Walter Desmet, Tetsuro Yoshida, Roberto Manfredini, Ingo Eitel, Masami Kosuge, Holger M Nef , Abhishek Deshmukh, Amir Lerman, Eduardo Bossone, Rodolfo Citro, Takashi Ueyama, Domenico Corrado, Satoshi Kurisu, Frank Ruschitzka, David Winchester, Alexander R Lyon, Elmir Omerovic, Jeroen J Bax, Patrick Meimoun, Guiseppe Tarantini, Charanjit Rihal, Shams Y .-Hassan, Federico Migliore, John D Horowitz, Hiroaki Shimokawa, Thomas Felix Lüscher, Christian Templin. (June 7, 2018). International Expert Consensus Document on Takotsubo Syndrome (Part I): Clinical Characteristics, Diagnostic Criteria, and Pathophysiology, European Heart Journal.

Vidal. (June 14, 2018). Broken Heart Syndrome (Takotsubo): Expert consensus published, but questions remain.

Act for the Hearts of Women. Tako-tsubo, broken heart syndrome.

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