Is Broken Heart Syndrome A Real Thing?

Sadness Love in Ending of Relationship Concept, Broken Heart Woman Standing with a Red Rose on Hand, Blurred Man in Back Side Walking away as background

Your heart is a muscle that pumps blood throughout the body.1 In fact, this powerful muscle requires more energy to perform than any other organ. 

A few nutrients help provide that energy to your heart function efficiently. One of them is coenzyme Q10, often abbreviated CoQ10. This powerful antioxidant plays a critical role in energy production for your heart and other organs. 

Deficiencies in this or any other nutrient can hinder energy production. CoQ10 is especially critical for your heart. As you get older, levels of this antioxidant naturally decline, and people with heart failure often have low amounts of CoQ10.2

Besides nutrient deficiencies, narrowed arteries and high blood pressure can also create heart problems. These and other conditions can leave your heart too weak to pump blood effectively. Eventually, that can lead to heart failure.3

When your heart stops pumping blood, everything suffers. A “broken” heart can impact your brain and every other organ, eventually leading to death when your heart can no longer provide oxygen and other nutrients.4

But your heart can also “break” in another way. 

If you’ve been in a romantic relationship that ended painfully, you probably know how it feels to have your heart broken. You might experience sadness and other mood swings, your appetite can change, and nearly everywhere you go triggers reminders of the person you once spent time with.

Having a broken heart hurts. It can also take its toll on your health in very profound ways.

What is Broken Heart Syndrome?

The formal name for broken heart syndrome is stress-induced cardiomyopathy.5 This condition occurs when your left ventricle, the heart’s main pumping chamber, weakens. 

The resulting surge of stress hormones can shock your heart, preventing your left ventricle from contracting effectively.6

Researchers also call this condition takotsubo cardiomyopathy, after an octopus trap. That’s because your left ventricle resembles the tako-tsubo pot Japanese fishermen use to trap octopuses.7

That “trapped” feeling is an appropriate description. Symptoms of broken heart syndrome can resemble a heart attack. 

You might feel shortness of breath, chest pain, and feel like you’re going to faint. Your heartbeat can become more rapid and your blood pressure can drop.8

The pain is definitely real for both conditions. However, these conditions differ in other ways. 

Unlike a heart attack, the symptoms of broken heart syndrome often occur suddenly following a stressful event.9 Plus, there’s no evidence of blocked heart arteries in broken heart syndrome.10

Women are more likely to experience broken heart syndrome than men. It occurs more often after age 50. If you’ve suffered a neurological condition or struggle with anxiety or depression, you can have a higher risk of broken heart syndrome.11

While other factors can trigger broken heart syndrome — surgery, for instance, or physical illness — stress is often the cause. Anything that causes a surge of emotions and accompanying stress hormones can contribute to broken heart syndrome.12 

A divorce, breakup, or losing a loved one can. So can losing your job, fear of public speaking, getting bad news about your health, or an asthma attack.

But good experiences can also trigger broken heart syndrome. A surge of emotions can result from when, say, a loved one surprises you or (lucky you!) you win the lottery.13

When these situations — good or bad — occur, stress hormones called catecholamines can lower the heart’s pumping action. Instead of steady, consistent pumping, your heart contracts forcefully or in an irregular pattern.14

The symptoms, which can certainly resemble a heart attack, might occur immediately or a few hours after that surge of emotion.15

Always seek emergency care when these and similar symptoms occur. Only proper testing and diagnosis can determine whether you have a heart attack or broken heart syndrome. Never try to determine these conditions on your own.16

Once your healthcare professional determines that you have not suffered a heart attack, he or she might use medications and other tactics to manage your condition.17

Very rarely, broken heart syndrome can lead to severe, short-term heart muscle failure and even death.18 It can create other problems including:

  • Failure of the heart to pump enough blood to meet your body’s needs
  • Erratic heartbeat patterns
  • Fluid backup in your lungs
  • Low blood pressure19

The good news is that with most cases, problems clear up within one to four weeks. Many people fully recover within two months.20 Broken heart syndrome won’t permanently damage the heart muscle, and it’s unlikely to recur.21

Work with your healthcare practitioner to address these and other heart-related complications. Together, the two of you can create a heart-healthy plan that works for your condition.

As you do that, you also have three powerful strategies to take on your own to keep your heart healthy and reduce your risk of broken heart syndrome. 

Strategy 1: Eat A Heart-Healthy Diet

Heart health starts with what goes on the end of your fork. These are the foods that can normalize blood pressure, inflammation, and other risk factors for heart disease.22 

The foods in our Advanced Plan make a solid foundation for heart health and so much more. Some highlights of this plan include: 

  • Vegetables. These nutrient superstars support a healthy heart by lowering blood pressure and other risk factors of heart disease.23 Leafy and cruciferous vegetables such as kale and broccoli are packed with nutrients. Eat from the rainbow and incorporate plenty of variety.
  • Berries. The colorful antioxidants in blueberries and other berries can reduce inflammation and oxidative stress that can damage your heart and other organs.24
  • Nuts and seeds. Loaded with nutrients and fiber, nuts and seeds make a healthy and delicious snack. Walnuts, which contain the anti-inflammatory fatty acids alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), are an especially good choice for heart health.25 Chia, hemp, and flaxseeds also provide those anti-inflammatory fats. We’ve combined them all in our delicious Essential Bar that healthily satisfies your cravings and sweet tooth.   
  • Healthy fats. Getting a variety of dietary fats from healthy sources can support heart health. Monounsaturated fats can lower your risk of heart disease. Avocado and extra-virgin olive oil are smart healthy-fat choices.26 Wild-caught cold-water seafood provides omega-3 fatty acids, a polyunsaturated fat, which can lower the inflammation and other risk factors of heart disease.27

Strategy 2: Manage Stress Levels

Chronic stress oftentimes underlies broken heart syndrome. Learning to manage stress can reduce your risk.28 

Yoga, meditation, deep breathing, or walking your dog around the blocks make great ways to de-stress. What works best is what works for you.

Stress management includes getting at least seven but preferably eight or nine hours of solid, uninterrupted sleep every night. If you have trouble sleeping, consider taking a supplement and discuss your condition with a healthcare practitioner.

Exercise makes an ideal way to lower stress levels and maintain a healthy heart. Consistent workouts strengthen your heart and also make you stronger to daily stressors. 

Any kind of movement, including walking, counts as exercise. Consider our MaxT3 program to get a powerful full-body workout in just 12 minutes.

Strategy 3: Get the Right Nutrients

Even with the best diet, you might not get optimal amounts of nutrients to support heart health. 

Some of these nutrients, such as magnesium, we don’t often get enough of from food. Others primarily exist in a few foods that you might not eat regularly. CoQ10, for instance, is highest in organ meats, although other foods such as muscle meats and fatty fish contain some.29

To get sufficient amounts of these and other nutrients, you need to take supplements. 

We’ve designed our Cardiovascular Wellness Bundle with the highest-quality nutrients in the correct doses that absorb well. With this bundle, you have everything you need to support a healthy heart:

  • Broccoli Blend. Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable that has been studied to possibly possess anti-cancer, cardiovascular health, and antioxidant properties. However, unfortunately, many people do not consume enough cruciferous vegetables in their everyday diet:
    • Ingredients used in Broccoli Blend, such as sulforaphene, have modern research suggesting that due to their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant characteristics, can help to prevent cardiovascular disease.
  • Garlic + Parsley Oil Blend. Support a healthy inflammatory response, a healthy immune system, and supply antioxidant protection with Garlic + Parsley Oil Blend.
    • A review of multiple studies on the relationship between garlic and cardiovascular disease stated that garlic was found to have preventative effects on cardiovascular disease by reducing causative effects, such as blood pressure and cholesterol.
Cardiovascular Wellness Bundle

What you eat and how you manage stress can have a profound impact on your heart. 

When you’re doing everything correctly and want to cover all your bases for heart and overall health, our Cardiovascular Wellness Bundle contains all the nutrients you need for heart health, in one easy-to-use bundle.

Take care of your heart and everything gets better. You’ll have more energy, focus, and stamina, all while reducing your disease risk and keeping a healthy weight. 

Discuss these and other strategies with your healthcare practitioner to stay heart healthy.