Broken heart syndrome hurts women more than men

heart ache

Broken Heart Syndrome. The name betrays the seriousness of the disorder. A rush of hormones and adrenaline, usually linked to an emotional event, causes parts of the heart to enlarge temporarily, causing symptoms much akin to a heart attack. Luckily, there are no blocked arteries or muscle damage usually associated with a heart attack, but the pain and fear is very much the same.

The trigger can be positive or negative. Anything from winning the lottery to being served with a court summons can cause an episode. But, not equally for men and women. Women it appears are up to seven times more likely to be affected and older women more than younger ones.

Dr. Abhishek Deshmukh, a University of Arkansas cardiologist who has treated Broken Heart Syndrome, became curious about the gender differentiation and began the research. Using a federal database that included data from 1,000 hospitals, Deshmukh focused on the year 2007 and found over 6,000 cases of Broken Heart Syndrome. Just under 11% were men.

Of the cases that were for women, Deshmukh found that in people younger than 55, women were over nine times greater risk than men. In the over 55 group, women were three times more likely than men to suffer Broken Heart Syndrome.

The reason for the discrepancy is unknown. “One theory is that hormones play a role. Another is that men have more adrenaline receptors on cells in their hearts than women do, so maybe men are able to handle stress better and the chemical surge it releases,” according to Deshmukh.

About 10% of people have a second episode. There doesn’t appear to be any permanent damage from the experience or any need for rigorous follow up treatment or therapy. It seems that time heals these broken hearts as well.

Source: MedicalNewsToday, University of Arkansas


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