Medical experts are seeing patients for "Broken Heart Syndrome"Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - For decades, the words have been spoken, but until recently medical experts were not seeing the data or the science to back it up. It is called "Broken Heart Syndrome," and women over 50 are especially at risk.
By: Kevin Wallevand, WDAY
Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - For decades, the words have been spoken, but until recently medical experts were not seeing the data or the science to back it up. It is called "Broken Heart Syndrome," and women over 50 are especially at risk.
Ardell Peterson of Fargo had just left her brother's side at the hospital when she got a phone call at work. Her brother, Daniel, had just died.
Ardell Peterson - Suffered Broken Heart Syndrome: "For no reason, I started coughing, and for no reason I was coughing up up bright red blood, and I felt like I was suffocating.”
Within minutes, Ardell's chest became tight. She could not breathe.
Ardell Peterson: "It felt like my whole inside was going to explode."
Everyone thought heart attack.
Ardell Patterson: “It is a very terrifying experience when you hear them call Rapid Response, and you know they are coming to save your life.”
All of Ardell's symptoms indicated a heart attack, but it wasn't until doctors ordered an angiogram and rushed her to the cath lab that they determined it was no heart attack at all, but Broken Heart Syndrome.
Dr. Susan Farkas - Sanford Cardiologist: "Most likely, and most of the time related to stress. It could be the death of a spouse that caused the so-called Broken Heart Syndrome."
Sanford Cardiologists Dr. Craig Kouba and Dr. Susan Farkas have both seen Broken Heart Syndrome; in fact Dr. Kouba was seeing yet another patient this afternoon for a follow up.
Dr. Craig Kouba - Sanford Cardiologist: "We ended up finding that she had the weight of the world on her shoulders, and that caused the condition."
People with Broken Heart Syndrome experience some of the same symptoms as a heart attack, but there is no blockage. Actually, it is the heart's reaction to a surge of stress hormones after someone goes through a temporary dramatic time in their life.
Dr. Susan Farkas: "That is why it is very important to not to dismiss it, but to treat it as a heart attack until we make the final diagnosis."
The symptoms of broken heart go away quickly, often treated with medication to reduce the workload on your heart while you recover. Ardell recovered just fine, and is back to being a nurse.
Broken Heart Syndrome affects far more women than men.