While “broken heart syndrome” may sound like the theme of a romance novel, it’s a very real health condition that mostly affects women. In fact, more than 90 percent of reported cases occur in women ages 58 to 75.
Also called takotsubo cardiomyopathy or stress cardiomyopathy, broken heart syndrome is a condition in which the heart muscle suddenly becomes weakened or stunned, and the left ventricle — one of the heart’s lower chambers that’s responsible for pumping oxygen-rich blood to tissues throughout the body — temporarily changes shape.
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Chances are, you’ve seen at least one dramatic movie scene in which a man suddenly clutches his chest and falls to the floor. In real life, however, the heart attack victim could just as likely be a woman — heart disease is the #1 killer of women in the U.S. — and the scene may not be nearly as dramatic.
The fact is, while men and women can and often do experience the “classic” heart attack symptoms of severe chest tightness and pressure, with the pain radiating down the left arm, women are more likely to have other, more subtle signs. You should know what those signs are.
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