The coronavirus pandemic has been not only physically, but also emotionally damaging to millions of people around the world. Distressingly, along with the emotional damage this lockdown is causing, many people are also suffering from a ‘Broken heart syndrome’.
Broken heart syndrome is a real medical condition, and now many people are suffering from it due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As explained by Mayo Clinic, Broken heart syndrome is a temporary heart condition that’s often brought on by stressful situations and extreme emotions. It typically happens when someone finds out a piece of terrifying news.
According to Mystical Raven, Dr. Matthew Lorber, a psychiatrist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, said:
“This could be the news, certainly, of a loved one dying, which is where the ‘broken heart syndrome’ name comes from… Anything that can cause intense stress.”
The technical term for Broken heart syndrome is Takotsubo cardiomyopathy.
It’s also referred to as ‘stress-induced cardiomyopathy’. When suffering from a broken heart, a part of your heart temporarily enlarges and doesn’t pump as it should. This could lead to severe short-term heart muscle failure, according to the American Heart Association.
Dr. Lorber explains that Takotsubo cardiomyopathy can also cause “dangerous changes” in blood pressure. The good news is, this condition is usually treatable. Unfortunately, in some rare cases, it can be deadly.
While admitting that Broken heart syndrome is still not completely understood, Dr. Lorber stresses there is definitely a link between heart health and mental health. He also claims people suffering from anxiety or similar mental health issues are “at a higher risk for having heart disease and heart attacks”.
“The most likely reason for this is, depression and anxiety cause a release of stress hormones that get into the bloodstream and impact the heart. The more your heart is exposed to this, the more likely you are to have a heart attack.”
There’s been an increase in Broken heart syndrome cases amid the coronavirus pandemic.
As Takotsubo cardiomyopathy is usually caused by extremely high levels of stress, it comes as no surprise that during the COVID-19 crisis, more people are struggling with this condition.
In a recent study published in JAMA Network | Cardiology, scientists claim there has been an increase in Broken heart syndrome cases while the world is battling a global pandemic. According to the findings, psychological, social, and economic stress related to the COVID-19 pandemic was associated with an increased incidence of stress cardiomyopathy. The conclusion of the study reads:
“This study found that there was a significant increase in the incidence of stress cardiomyopathy during the COVID-19 pandemic when compared with prepandemic periods.”
The researchers found that people are twice as likely to develop stress cardiomyopathy now than they were before COVID-19 became a global issue. This negative effect is caused by the inevitable link between heart health and mental health.
How can we protect ourselves from Broken heart syndrome?
Mayo Clinic suggests a few tips on how to reduce stress levels and high blood pressure.
1. Simplify your schedule.
If you’re a busy bee and all of your time is booked up, try to reschedule or remove the activities that aren’t very important.
2. Practice breathing techniques.
Taking deep, slow breaths will help you relax your body and calm your heart.
Physical activity is crucial when it comes to your health. However, it’s better to consult with your doctor about the activities you can and cannot engage in, especially if you’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure.
Meditation is a surefire way to strengthen your mental health and relax your body. Combining it with yoga will definitely help.
5. Fix your sleeping habits.
Getting enough sleep is vital for many reasons, including reducing stress levels.
6. Shift your perspective.
Dealing with mental health issues is never easy. However, acknowledging your feelings about the situation will help you shift your focus and see things from a clear perspective. Therefore, finding solutions to your problems might get a little easier.
Finally, reaching out to the people you love is one of the best ways to deal with anxiety in times of social isolation. Another essential thing you could do is take time to practice self-care. Not only this will help you lower your stress levels, but it could prevent you from suffering from Broken heart syndrome, as it’s closely related to your mental health.