Thursday, 9 February 2012

Broken heart syndrome - an actual condition

Valentines day approaches, bit early but seeing as I'm away skiing (woo) next week I might as well theme this article!

Broken heart syndrome is the slang term for cardiomyopathy. Similar symptoms to a heart attack, the main difference is that a broken heart will heal (pardon the pun) and a heart attack won't. 

Broken hearts also do not cause long term damage!

After a a period of high stress, a break up or death of a relative etc, the heart is overpumped with andrenaline and stress hormones, this narrows your coronary arteries, the arteries which supply your heart with oxygen and other goodies for heart muscle cells.

What happens

Quite similar to Myocardial infarction (heart attack).
  • Narrowing of coronary arteries
  • Restricts blood flow
  • Hence reduced oxygen to your heart muscle cells
  • Unlike heart attacks, Cardiomyopathy recovers.
However it's quite hard to tell the difference between a heart attack and broken heart syndrome. However if you have symptoms of chest pain, breathing difficulties, don't assume its cardiomyopathy, you may be chancing a heart attack!

  • Generally the rule of thumb is, if you're obese, don't have many friends, don't get out much and stay inside playing games all your life, it's likely to be a heart attack.
  • However if you are a healthy outgoing person, recently broke up with the love of your life, get 500 pieces of coursework a day and sleep 20 minutes a night, you MAY have Broken heart syndrome!

What is a heart attack?

Well, it's a bit more than your heart being under attack! 

Basically, when you eat too much, cholesterol can build up in the wall of your arteries. So now instead of your arteries being nice smooth tubes, you have deposits in the wall, making them bulge out a bit. That's called atheroma.

If you are even more unhealthy, these deposits break through the wall, and gives the previously smooth tubes a rough surface.

When that happens, the platelets in your blood don't like it and try to heal it up with a clot.

Unlucky for you, the clot can flow away and when blood goes back to your heart, it can block a coronary artery. This stops the blood getting to your heart muscle cells (the ones which pump your heart).

No blood means no oxygen --> No oxygen means no respiration (energy making) --> No respiration means your heart muscle cells die! (Yep, you figured it out already, bad news for you.)

The heart muscle cells die and your heart doesn't pump, and your body can't do much without fresh blood pumping through your body..

So now you've learned that you really can get a broken heart, (except probably not the same kind) and also what a heart attack is!

1 comment:

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