START A PETITION 27,000,000 members: the world's largest community for good

Can You Die from a Broken Heart?

  • 1 of 2
Can You Die from a Broken Heart?

If it feels like a heart attack and acts like a heart attack, does that mean that it is a heart attack?

Not necessarily.

Chest pain and tightness, arm pain and shortness of breath are all hallmark symptoms of a heart attack, but they are also signs of another, lesser-known heart condition—Takotsubo (or “broken heart”) syndrome.

Heart attack’s less-dangerous doppelganger

While not as deadly as a full-blown coronary, broken heart syndrome—also referred to as a stress cardiomyopathy—can mimic a heart attack in many ways.

Both share similar symptoms, including heart failure, irregular contractions and cardiac fluid buildup.

In fact, the two conditions are so similar that even medical professionals can have a difficult time distinguishing between them, until certain cardiac imaging and blood tests are performed.

There is one major difference between the two cardiac conditions. Unlike a heart attack, people with broken heart syndrome typically don’t have visible signs of heart muscle damage, or plaque build-up in their arteries.

Triggered by emotions

Broken heart syndrome got its name from its primary cause—extreme emotional stress.

Friedemann Schaub, M.D., a cardiologist and molecular biology specialist says that major, life-changing events (such as the death of a loved one, a divorce, even winning the lottery) can trigger stress hormones to flood a person’s body, causing their heart to go into a dangerous state of overdrive.

If exposed to elevated levels of stress hormones for too long, the heart becomes enlarged with blood and can no longer pump blood efficiently. “You’re hormones are essentially asking your heart to do the impossible. It’s the equivalent of running all-out on a treadmill for eight hours straight,” Schaub says.

Can you die from a broken heart? Continue reading to uncover the answer…

Morning Heart Attacks Can Be Deadly
Relaxing: Why It’s So Hard and What You Can Do To Unwind
Go Red: Heart Disease is Top Killer of Women

Don’t Go Breakin’ My Heart: The Dangers of Broken Heart Syndrome originally appeared on

  • 1 of 2

Read more: Anxiety, General Health, Health, Heart & Vascular Disease, Stress, , , , ,

By Anne-Marie Botek, Editor

have you shared this story yet?

go ahead, give it a little love connects family caregivers and provides support, resources, expert advice and senior housing options for people caring for their elderly parents. is a trusted resource that visitors rely on every day to find inspiration, make informed decisions, and ease the stress of caregiving.


+ add your own
7:04PM PDT on May 15, 2013

A very sad situation which I do believe happens quite often in elderly couples. They devote their lives to each other & when one passes, the other is just a lost soul believing they have nothing left to live for. I do believe it is dieing from a "broken heart". So sad...

4:44AM PDT on Apr 1, 2013

Probably. If the trauma is bad enough, it can happen.

4:23AM PDT on Mar 13, 2013

It's possible if it's prolonged

3:38AM PDT on Mar 13, 2013

interesting, thanks for posting

12:15AM PDT on Mar 11, 2013

When one feels as if someone has ripped your heart out - I can't imagine extreme sadness causing high blood pressure and leading to heart disease....

8:57PM PDT on Mar 10, 2013

Been there, done it, lived through it. Others I have known, didn't. Very sad and so true.

12:18PM PST on Mar 7, 2013

Stress! the woman's heart attack! Great read but still stressed so I'm off to dig a hole and throw my heart in to it looks like mine can't be fixed!

5:25PM PST on Mar 4, 2013

Thank you for sharing!
It's helpful and educational.

10:04PM PST on Mar 3, 2013

i always thought only soulmates died of a broken heart and their love has always inspired me.

7:44AM PST on Mar 3, 2013

Very good article

add your comment

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

people are talking

One wants in and the other wants out. :-)

Thanks, I definitely feel much more alert and creative when I exercise regularly. It's too easy to …

thank you


Select names from your address book   |   Help

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.

site feedback


Problem on this page? Briefly let us know what isn't working for you and we'll try to make it right!