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Women More Prone to 'Broken Heart' Syndrome: Study
Date:11/16/2011

By Maureen Salamon
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Broken heart syndrome -- a temporary heart condition brought on by extreme physical or emotional stress -- occurs overwhelmingly in women compared to men, a new study suggests.

Whether preceded by the sudden death of a loved one, a frightening medical diagnosis, a car accident or even a surprise party, the phenomenon is 7.5 times more common in females, and women older than 55 are 2.9 times more likely to develop broken heart syndrome than younger women, the researchers found.

"We don't really know what causes it, but it's with people who present with symptoms of a heart attack that often occurs with a very stressful situation," said Dr. Stacey Rosen, associate chair of cardiology at the Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park, N.Y. "We know women get all forms of heart disease differently than men do. Whether this is an external effect on the heart muscle . . . or a difference in the way blood vessels behave is yet to be understood," said Rosen, who was not involved in the study.

University of Arkansas researchers were slated to present the study Wednesday at an American Heart Association (AHA) meeting in Orlando, Fla. Research presented at scientific meetings is preliminary and has not yet been peer-reviewed.

Known clinically as takotsubo cardiomyopathy, broken heart syndrome causes a temporary enlargement of part of the heart, while the rest of the organ functions normally or with more forceful contractions. Symptoms mimic a heart attack and trigger chest pain, shortness of breath, an irregular heartbeat and generalized weakness. The condition is treatable and typically resolves within a week, though it is fatal in rare cases.

The study analyzed records from a nationwide database in 2007 and found that of about 6,230 cases of broken heart syndrome, more than 89 percent were in women. About one-third of patien
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