Can You Actually Die from a Broken Heart?

Can You Actually Die from a Broken Heart?

[♩INTRO] It sounds like a scene from a soap opera:
someone loses their soul mate, then passes away in the night, seemingly from a broken heart. But it’s not just a trope of fiction—broken
heart syndrome is real, and in very rare cases, it can even be fatal. Broken heart syndrome, aka stress-induced cardiomyopathy, is a weakening of the heart that can cause similar symptoms to regular cardiomyopathy, or heart muscle disease: chest pain, shortness of breath, and sometimes changes in heart rhythm. It’s so similar, in fact, that the syndrome
wasn’t identified until the 1990s. But there’s one key difference. In stress-induced cardiomyopathy, patients don’t have blocked arteries the most common cause of heart disease. And when you X-ray the heart, it looks a little bit like a takotsubo, a type of pot used as an octopus trap in Japan. Which is why the syndrome is also sometimes called Takotsubo cardiomyopathy. The shape comes from a temporary enlargement of the heart, especially the left ventricle, the largest and strongest of the four chambers in your heart. Normally, bigger might sound better, but in this case the left ventricle becomes
enlarged because the muscle tissue isn’t working as well. It’s become less elastic and weaker, so it can’t pump with as much force as normal. We still don’t know exactly how this enlargement happens, but the leading hypothesis is the sudden release of catecholamines, things like adrenaline, what’s often called the “fight or flight” response to stress. Catecholamines increase blood flow to the muscles and raise the heart rate and blood pressure to prepare your body to react to potential threats. But in cases of broken heart syndrome, these catecholamines go overboard for some reason, interfering with the muscles’ ability to contract. It’s typically provoked by a profound emotional event or trauma, like the death of a loved one, getting fired,
or abuse hence the name “broken heart syndrome.” That said, it can happen after any type of
stress, even if it seems mild, like locking yourself out of your house. And the event doesn’t even have to be bad. Takotsubo cardiomyopathy can happen after happy moments, too, like being surprised at a birthday party or
hitting a jackpot at the casino. There’s still a lot we don’t know about
broken heart syndrome, but one thing researchers have learned is that it mostly happens in older women. We’re not totally sure why, but it may
have something to do with lower levels of the hormone estrogen, which helps regulate stress. As women get older, their estrogen levels
drop off. So they’re more likely to be deeply affected by a stressful event, and to experience stress-induced side effects like broken heart syndrome. But that doesn’t explain why it rarely happens in men, who also have very low levels of the
hormone. So estrogen is just one piece of the puzzle. If all this talk of death by broken heart
is freaking you out a little bit, just know that it’s super rare, and life-threatening cases are even rarer. Most cases resolve on their own in a few weeks, though doctors usually monitor people just to be safe. So, as the saying goes, time does heal a broken heart. Or at least, it usually heals broken heart
syndrome. Thanks for asking, and thanks especially to our patrons on Patreon, who always have a special place in our non-broken hearts. You have helped to keep our hearts whole! If you want to propose questions for us to
answer or get other rewards like access to a monthly blooper reel— which, this episode had a whole thing about getting stuck in a bathtub that we cut out— you can get it! You’ve got to go to
though. [♩OUTRO]

100 Replies to “Can You Actually Die from a Broken Heart?”

  1. My grandfather died in July last year, and the day after his funeral, my grandmother died. I have first hand experience with this, and it sucks 🙁

  2. This is a question for SciShow Psyche! So I have this problem called Alarm Clock Anxiety. If I set an alarm I literally can not sleep, at all. It's REALLY bad. What causes alarm clock anxiety? It seems to be a very common problem! Are there ways to get rid of it? I need to be up at certain times!

  3. There is also something to be said for just giving up. My grandmothers mother when she lost her love and later married for money (as was cultural and likely needed at the time) she just kinda, gave up on life and died at some point. She drank, but I have no doubt that she just also didn't care enough anymore as it wasn't anywhere near long enough from when her love died to when she died that she passed on.

    There are lots of people near deaths door who stop fighting. That's a pretty big factor. It's why if you are fighting a disease, addiction etc that can threaten your life, having a support system of people who care about you is super important.

  4. My great aunt died from this! Which sounds morbid, but her twin sister died and she died just a couple weeks later even though there was nothing medically wrong with her. It's sad, but it was some consolation to us that she didn't really want to live without her sister

  5. My mom worked in the Navy for a while and they had a corpsman die of a broken heart but his was actually caused by the wall between the two sides of his heart splitting.

  6. Do humans have a primal growl/roar like other animals? (Lions, dogs, tigers etc)
    If so – What does it sound like?

  7. Friends mom died of broken heart syndrome and no one knew she was stressed! She was a great athlete and a busy parent.

  8. As Abe Simpson said "No, Jasper. They may say she died of a burst ventricle, but I know she died of a broken heart. " 🙂

  9. Wow, I just have a lot of the symptoms you just listed off since Boxing Day… hopefully it goes away..probably should go to a doctor tho… xD

  10. Next you guys are going to tell me people can literally develop rectangular prismatic stools consisting of endogenous cement-like substances… (SaB syndrome?) or perhaps even some sort of "busted nut syndrome".

  11. So, what I learned from this is that if you use torment on a luvdisc, it can help you catch octillery. Or would astonish be more effective?

  12. Question: what would happen if our brain hemispheres switched (such as the right controlling the right and the left controlling the left)?

  13. Things star wars medicine can do:
    Completly replace someone's lungs and heart after injury
    Fully functioning robotic limbs, even when the stump has been cauterized
    Increase brain function at the cost of productivity
    Allow someone with Locked-In Syndrome to become fully functioning
    Save Anakin from all that stuff, even if he's in constant pain
    Create Grievous
    Grow clones on speed aging
    Create inhibitor chips, forcing people to perform tasks they don't wish to do, while still allowing them to somewhat think freely.

    This star wars medicine can't do:
    Create a robotic liver
    Detect stress-induced cardiomyopathy

  14. You go to sleep, you forget to breath and you don't wake up. I think most of the time they get to choose to die or not because I've had broken heart syndrome after an extended period of depression but I chose not to die. Is it possible that sleep apnia could go along with it because I regulary wake up drawing breath? Maybe it's caused by bordom, what do you think, or maybe fear alonside another heightened emotion? You'll have to do tests.

  15. Statistical analysis has shown that when it is an elderly couple and one spouse dies, the surviving spouse has a higher probability of dying within the first year.

  16. When my wife left me randomly last year. I went home to visit my parents. While there I collapsed in the middle of the night and went into cardiac and respiratory arrest. I was in a coma for 5 days. When I finally recovered my heart was left damaged (broken). I literally nearly died from a broken heart. Its been a year and I still have bad dreams reliving the realization that my now ex-wife could be so cruel and leave me for no reason. So yes dying from a broken heart is definitely real.

  17. You say that the sudden increase in catecholamines could cause these effects. Is the enlargement maxed immediately after a stressful event, or is there a period of increasing severity? If there's prolonged stress and constant exposure to high levels of catecholamines, does that mean that the enlargement worsens over time, or does the body adjust to the new "average" level of catecholamines and the heart begin to have less of a response to them?

  18. just the other day there was a story in the local news of 2 elderly people found dead as it turns out the 90 year old man died while shoveling his lane and his wife 83 years old sat out in the cold holding him until she passed away from exposure that's love

  19. Should do an episode on attractive- why are we attracted to some people & not others? why attraction isn't always reciprocated?

  20. OMG I love you BABY….you are beautiful, Amazing and your HEART is mine,,, and IF YOU BREAK IT, YOU'RE IN BIG TROUBLE…..REMEMBER THE DOOR ACCIDENT😬😬💔👈👉👊👊 🙇😜

  21. This is a field that is largely ignored by medical and scientific community. Death of loves has an effect on the individual. I started to deeply consider this after loosing loved ones to decease and aging and so forth. Personally after my husband died unexpectedly after rent you nine years of marriage I noticed physically changes in myself which continue to this day. My hand signature has changed, I must make a conscious effort to stay connected to love ones on and on. During the initial mourning stage I had memory loss and had trouble with day to day function. I experienced physical pain in my chest for months. This was pain I needed help with but couldn't describe to anyone. Yes looking back the heart region sounds right. I think that this field is taboo or dismissed by science.

  22. I was too young to remember, but my uncle died from a broken heart the day after his wife died. I can't honestly imagine a more beautiful way of going to the next life

  23. One of my coworkers mother passed away this way. Her father was on his death bed for a week with a dying heart and 2 days after first finding this out her mother died of broken heart syndrome just thinking about not being with her husband anymore. Three days after her death her husband passed away…. funny how that worked out. I did feel bad that my coworker lost both parents in one week.

  24. birds can also die from this i am lucky i cant get this

    it usually happens in peoples who have heart problems and didnt know about it as well and that usually happens if there is a family member who had lots of heart attacks or something like that

    thx for this awesomely ha bisky vid i already knew about this from other things i watch but i loved the review

  25. Cried so hard i couldnt breath didnt sleep for 3 days anxiety was beyond normal felt like heart acttack was so distrought depression sadness

  26. If my girlfriend breaks up with me, I might not have a heart attack but I'll be dead anyway because I woulf kill myself.

  27. I came here because of the Phantom of the Opera. I read a 'trivia' (I don't know if it's true), but it said that Erik truly died because of a broken heart. 😭


  28. Regular exercise (I prefer biking myself) is something that can help normalize my emotions through a particularly stressful eventful time.
    When nothing else helps, regular exercise (dancing?) helps normalize my emotions and spreed my recovery in just about all situations.
    Pick something you like to do so you continue to do it.

  29. Took my mother's life, she died of this condition a week after her little brother killed himself. Please yall, stay healthy in your mind and heart. If sadness grips you, pray, find happiness, be grateful for what you have… I pray for the heart of the people, may we all find peace and joy in the storm.

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