What Is Broken Heart Syndrome? Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prevention


Since stress is a major trigger of broken heart syndrome, conditions associated with stress, including depression and anxiety, come with a higher risk. Symptoms of broken heart syndrome are very similar to a heart attack. Here’s what you should know about both.

Depression and Anxiety Disorders

Researchers are still working to better understand the causes and risk factors for broken heart syndrome, but it’s clear acute emotional or physical stress plays a role. Since stress is strongly associated with psychiatric disorders like depression and anxiety, those living with these mental illnesses have a higher likelihood of broken heart syndrome, according to a research review published in September 2020 in Cureus. Per the review, treatment of these disorders with therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) could reduce the risk of broken heart syndrome.

Heart Attack

The symptoms of broken heart syndrome mimic those of a heart attack, which occurs when blood flow to the heart is partially or completely blocked. A heart attack is a very serious heart event and treatment is needed right away to prevent complications and death. Therefore, it’s important to know the signs of a heart attack so you know when to seek help. These include:

  • Chest pain, which may feel like squeezing, pressure, or tightness
  • Pain that spreads to the shoulder, back, neck, or arms
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness or feeling faint
  • Cold sweat
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue

If you or a loved one experiences these symptoms, call for emergency medical help right away.


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