The term "broken heart", used to describe a painful reaction to intense emotional experience, is not just a figure of speech. It turns out that the "broken heart syndrome" is in fact a well-established medical condition, and a new study was published in Journal of the American Heart Association suggests that it may be associated with cancer. In particular, the study found that one in six people with a broken heart syndrome also had cancer.
Broken heart syndrome: real health
The broken heart syndrome, according to the American Heart Association (AHA), is technically called the "takotsubo syndrome" (also known as "cardiomyopathy"), and the authors of the new study describe it as "a condition of acute heart failure that can occur under conditions of severe mental stress or physical. "
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When someone goes through something emotionally traumatic – be it a breakup, loss of a loved one or intense financial difficulties – the main heart pumping chamber can temporarily expand, making it difficult to pump blood as well as it should. This condition may also occur after something very good happens, eg Winning a lottery (like crying happy tears, only more dangerous for the heart).
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AHA claims that the symptoms associated with a broken heart syndrome are similar to the symptoms of a heart attack. People may, for example, feel shortness of breath or feel chest pain.
Interestingly, in the case of a broken heart syndrome – in contrast to myocardial infarction – scientists have not identified damage to the myocardium or blocked arteries as a cause.
The relationship between the broken heart syndrome and cancer
A new study, based on observations from the Takotsubo international registry, took place in 26 centers in nine different countries and registered over 1,600 people with a broken heart syndrome.
The researchers closely followed these participants and found that more than 267 of them (one in six or 16.6 percent) also had cancer. Interestingly, the vast majority of people with heart cancer and cancer (87.6%) were women. The most common type of cancer that the researchers noted was breast cancer.
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Does the broken heart syndrome cause cancer or vice versa?
Because this study was the type that only studies the relationship (through observation), scientists you can not deduce whether you really broken your heart caused cancer or vice versa. Further research is needed to indicate the reason for the link.
"The mechanism by which malignant tumor and cancer treatment can promote the development of a broken heart syndrome should be investigated," Dr. Christian Templin of the University Heart Center Zurich at the University Hospital in Zurich, Switzerland, who was the lead author of the study, shared in a press release AHA.
But even if scientists do not know for sure, they noticed in the study that patients with cancer who had a broken heart syndrome reported less frequently the emotional release of their broken heart.
In particular, more people beige Cancer reported that their broken heart triggers were related to emotional triggers, including interpersonal conflicts, sadness and loss, financial or employment related problems, anger and frustration, and panic and anxiety.
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Emotional stresses were generally less common in cancer patients compared to those without cancer. This is contrary to the idea that the emotional diagnosis of cancer was the cause of the development of the broken heart syndrome.
"Although the psychological weight [cancer] potentially can increase the efficiency of the sympathetic system, this was not the case in our analysis – said Dr. Templin. "Because emotional stressors were less common in patients with malignant tumors [cancer] compared to those without ".
What caused a broken heart syndrome in people with cancer?
Opposing intuitive findings (that is, patients with a broken heart syndrome and cancer claim less often that their broken heart was from an emotional event) may suggest that some other factor (maybe physical, not emotional) gave cancer patients the same condition, which people with emotional triggers develop.
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Dr Templin noted with attention that further research is needed in this area, but said the research findings "provide additional reason to investigate the potential effects of cardiotoxic chemotherapy" – whereas he believes that future research should investigate whether chemotherapy can have a negative effect on the heart, potentially causing a broken heart syndrome.
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Does my broken heart put me at risk of cancer?
The study is certainly interesting – but it is important not to read the findings and immediately assume that you will get cancer because you have been crushed, say, emotional dissolution. This is not what the study discovered.
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Instead, Dr Templin based on the study was twofold: firstly, "patients with a broken heart syndrome can benefit if they are examined for cancer to improve their overall survival", and the other was that cancer doctors should consider the possibility of fracture in patients who "feel chest pain, shortness of breath or abnormalities in the electrocardiogram" during cancer treatment.
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