Bad news for people who are recently out of relationships: a new report from the American Heart Association says that people can suffer from “Broken Heart Syndrome,” which has actual negative consequences on the body. The worst part is that this disease has been associated with a higher risk of getting cancer and a higher mortality rate among people who do get cancer.
What is Broken Heart Syndrome?
“Broken Heart Syndrome” has a real clinical name: Takotsubo cardiomyopathy. Adults who are recently out of relationships have been diagnosed with the disease at a much higher percentage than other people. Nearly one in six people diagnosed with cardiomyopathy also receive a later diagnosis of malignant cancer. Malignant cancers are the harmful kinds of tumors that require treatment. These people were also found to be more likely to die from the cancer than their non-heartbroken counterparts.
Who Gets Diagnosed?
Takotsubo cardiomyopathy is not just restricted to people who had their heart broken by a recent relationship, either. Sometimes, it can be the response to a tragedy like losing a loved one, or any other life changing event associated with grief. It typically comes on suddenly because of the randomness of these sorts of events.
The main symptoms associated with Broken Heart syndrome are shortness of breath and pain. The symptoms and sadness one feels are a result of the heart’s left ventricle contorting, which weakens the rest of the cardiovascular system. As a result, the heart is much less effective at doing its main job: pumping blood to the rest of the body.
Some researchers who have done small studies and experiments regarding the disease believe it can be used to explain certain phenomena. Some hypothesize that Takotsubo cardiomyopathy is the reason that long married couples often die within the same day, sometimes even within hours of each other. The disease is also seen much more often in women than in men.
How the Study Worked
Some scientists have joked that this new study means a high school breakup could be the “silent killer,” but the researchers that compiled the report say that is not really what the data suggests. The study was set up by finding 1,600 people who had been diagnosed with Broken Heart Syndrome, and then seeing how many of them had later been diagnosed with cancer. The researchers then compared that percentage of people to the rest of the population who had not been diagnosed.
The researchers said that while the association between the two diseases seems high, all the study really means is that there needs to be more investigation into the connection. This will probably require larger studies with more people who have been diagnosed with cardiomyopathy in the future. They do recommend, however, that people who are diagnosed with this affliction of the heart get additional cancer screening.